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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 2. 1965.

Motor Unions Attack Minister

Motor Unions Attack Minister

The New Zealand Motor World, official organ of most of the automobile associations in New Zealand, often contains some very fatuous material. It must be stressed, in fairness, that this is seldom the fault of the Motor World; rather it is the fault of the motor unions, whose meetings and utterances the Motor World is obliged to report.

A prime example of the fatuousness of the thinking prevalent in the motor unions was to be found on page 4 of the October, 1964, issue of the Motor World.

The page contained a report of the North Island Motor Union and the South Island Motor Union conferences. Both unions were highly critical of the Minister of Transport. Mr. McAlpine, for instituting legislation to make the fitting of seat belts to all new cars compulsory.

The NIMU decided at the conference to refer a motion criticising Mr, McAlpine's action back to member associations for further discussion. The SIMU adopted a resolution which stated that it viewed with concern the minister's failure to ascertain the views of the motoring movement before making his decision.

It might be supposed from these resolutions that the motor unions disagreed with the proposed legislation, and were active in voicing their disagreement. But this was not so, for the report continues to state, categorically, that both unions confirmed that they will nevertheless continue to assist in educating motorists and publicising the use of safety belts. Indeed, Mr. C. H. Harvey (Southland), mover of the South Island resolution, said that the union was not opposed to the use of safety belts and should do everything it could to encourage their use.

The gravamen of the unions' complaint, then, was not that the minister was instituting bad legislation, but that he failed to ask the opinions of unions before acting Mr. H. W. Dowling, president of the NIMU, made this quite clear, saying that there had been a tendency for certain ministers of the Crown to fail to consult the NIMU before making legislative changes.

"It is perhaps through oversight or forgetfulness." he said, "but we had been promised in the past that we would be consulted whenever legislation was proposed concerning the motoring public."

If this is the level of peevish thinking at which the motor unions operate, then they are in a very sorry state indeed. The unions, it seems clear, are not wholly concerned that the decisions of Government be in the interests of the motoring public; they are Just as concerned that they be consulted. Their point, of course, is understandable. If they are not consulted by Government, then they cannot make their views known until it is too late. But they are setting about their task the wrong way.

At present the Government must feel that regardless of whatever action it takes concerning the motoring public, the motor unions will raise an angry squawk. If, however, the unions were to give the Government unqualified support when they believed that the Government had acted propitiously, and reserved their complaints for the occasions when the Government had, in their view, taken the wrong measures, then perhaps they would be listened to. At present they must be viewed as a group of rather angry men, more concerned with the sound of their own concerted voice than with furthering their self-appointed task of protecting the interests of the motoring public. The unions, it seems, talk far too much. One day they may have something really worth while to say, and the only regret is that in all probability no one, let alone the Government, will be prepared to stop and listen.