This week, Doc McGrath is driving freely around Wellington
Good news this week in the form of some welcome respite for Wellington drivers, whose protests about a city council revenue spy-car led to it being taken off the road.
But isn't it horrendous that a city council, funded by ratepayers, set up a spy car in the first place to persecute many of those self-same ratepayers—those with the audacity to shun inconvenient and unreliable public transport?
And doesn't it raise the question of what exactly the role of local government is ?
Because over the last 18 months, a council-owned Toyota Yaris, equipped with camera, has generated nearly a million dollars in fines for the grey ones on council, levied on car owners for sins as egregious as stopping at an intersection with indicator flashing (driver then charged with "double parking"), and dropping kids off at school ("dangerous stop-and-drop practices").
Obviously, this vehicle clearly had, as its primary aim, not safety but the extraction of yet more money from Wellington motorists. The cynic in me suggests that it was all part of a Green-inspired anti-car (read: anti-freedom) crusade to boost the numbers using public transport. It was certainly profitable: with running costs of $250k a year, and revenue generation of $900k a year, operating these vehicles is a veritable licence to print money (Ben Bernanke and Alan Bollard would almost be envious!).
Effectively, this was a selective motoring tax with private motorists as its victims - a nasty, spiteful and vicious way of robbing Wellingtonians.
Good riddance to it, and if such a move is tried again I recommend the citizenry take matters into their own hands and disable the vehicle concerned. And the driver.
At least councillor John Morrison had the honesty to call this spy car "sneaky and surreptitious" and admitted: "The ratepayers are our friend and customer, not our enemy. The spy car treated them like the enemy."
Well done, John. If only more bureaucrats would adopt such a respectful attitude toward their masters.
See ya next week!