Barker Confused, says Delamere

  • John Delamare

Customs Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, says he regrets that Labour MP, Rick Barker, has descended to misleading the public over the issue of odometer tampering.

"Mr Barker is apparently claiming that it is easy to prove odometer tampering, based on the May 1 decision of Judge Thompson in the Wellington District Court. He claims that this decision proves the Government is wrong in its plans to give consumers greater power to defeat odometer fraudsters.

"For the record, there have been two recent cases involving challenges by car importers to Customs' seizure of imported vehicles because of suspected odometer tampering.

"On March 16, Judge Willy in the Wellington District Court ordered the return of nine seized vehicles because he preferred the evidence of the importer's expert to that of the Customs Service's expert.

"He also placed the burden of proof on the Customs Service to show why the seized vehicles should continue to be held.

"On May 1, in the same court, Judge Thompson in a similar case involving one car, preferred the Customs Service expert's opinion to that of the importer's expert, and further, put the burden of proof on the importer, rather than the Service.

"Far from this disagreement between two judges in the same Court proving the Government is wrong, it supports our contention that proving odometer tampering is extremely difficult. A responsible government has to question whether it is wise to lavish resources on legal exercises that reach conflicting conclusions.

"Mr Barker is constantly claiming Customs is not putting enough resources into one of its major tasks - preventing the importation of dangerous drugs. Now he wants even more resources put into checking cars. It would be helpful if he made up his mind what he really wants.

"It is regrettable that Mr Barker has chosen to support his argument by selectively quoting from Court records, and not telling the full story," said Mr Delamere.