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Hide critical of govt car crashes

Published: 12:02AM Tuesday February 27, 2001

Act MP Rodney Hide says government ministers are treating their taxpayer-funded cars carelessly, after revealing that almost half the Government's self-drive fleet have been in smashes.

Twelve of the 22 self-drive ministerial cars have been involved in accidents since the coalition Government came to office, Hide told Linda Clark on One News Late Edition - a rate of nearly one a month.

"They (Cabinet) are accident prone... and it's a case that if the car's not yours you don't look after it," Hide said.

Labour MP Annette King's new Volkswagen was involved in the most serious smash - her car was in a head-on accident in December and was written off. The driver of the other car was in intensive care for six days.

Among those to make a claim are Phillida Bunkle and Marian Hobbs, while Paul Swain and Margaret Wilson have both had two accidents.

In six of the 12 crashes a minister's family member was driving. Spouses and children are allowed to drive the cars but only if the minister gives permission.

In Annette King's car crash her daughter was at the wheel - Late Edition has been told police will interview Amanda King this week and charges are possible.

Helen Clark, the minister responsible for ministerial services, says the figures do not indicate who is to blame for the crashes.

However, Hide says the taxpayer is footing the bill for the crashes.

"It's hard to believe that this government would expect the taxpayer to pay if it wasn't their fault, so it looks to me like most of them are their fault," Hide says.

He says there is no need for ministers to have publicly funded self-driven cars.

"We should pay ministers properly and not try to pay them on the cheap with cars and petrol... everyone else buys their own cars," Hide says.