• Jenny Shipley

"Labour is soft on crime," Transport Minister Jenny Shipley said today. "Labour's confused response to the Government's road safety drive makes it clear that the opposition's tough talk on crime is not matched by a readiness to act.

"Last week Harry Duynhoven said his party would support the measures I announced that targeted the most serious road criminals. Now George Hawkins says Labour is against it. They should get their story sorted out.

"Labour apparently doesn't like the requirement for all drivers to carry photo licences. Labour must come to grips with the fact that the photo licence is an essential tool for the Police in their targeting of serious road criminals. I want the police to be able to get the most dangerous drivers off the road so that the majority of law abiding New Zealanders can enjoy safer driving. That can't be done unless their identity is established beyond any doubt , and that requires photos on licences.

"New Zealanders are already obliged to carry their drivers licences at all times. The $55 fine is at the discretion of the police, so that when a driver is stopped for good reason and refuses to co-operate with Police they have another tool to use. Labour, which claims to support the Police, should put its vote where its mouth is.

"Labour is also complaining about the cost of the photo licence. I have made it clear many times that the Government will only be recovering the cost of converting to the new system and will not collect a dollar more than is necessary. Sixty dollars is about the cost of two tanks of petrol which is not too high a price to pay to create a safer driving environment for all of us.

"Labour is clearly prepared to take a softly-softly approach, if George Hawkins is to be believed. It proves yet again that Labour is long on rhetoric but short on action.

"When the AA surveyed New Zealand drivers, 82 per cent supported having a photo on the driver's licence. It is time New Zealand caught up to the rest of the world.

"New Zealanders will find it telling that Labour's spokespeople are at odds over this safety drive. It's revealing that as soon as any policy pressure is put on the Labour party, the image of unity crumbles and the party's internal confusion and division becomes clear yet again.