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May 8, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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Privileged people don’t want window washers touching their cars, legislate against them

A new bill banning street window washers has been put to Select Committee in Parliament.

The private members bill, put forward by National MP Jami-Lee Ross, would allow police to issue on the spot fines of $150 to window washers.

Many local councils already have bylaws prohibiting street window washers, but under these bylaws authorities are required to prosecute the individual in order to recover the fine. Ross said that instant fines provide an easier, more cost-effective route for councils and police.

The bill is supported by Auckland Council and police. So far, 61 people have been prosecuted under Auckland Council’s bylaw, with a further 170 cases currently underway.

Sam, a regular window washer in Wellington, told Salient, “Let’s be honest, a $150 fine isn’t going to stop us doing what we do.”

The bill allows for a maximum penalty on conviction of up to $1000 for a second offence, and up to $20,000 for further, repeated breaches.

Jami-Lee Ross said that some motorists found the practise intimidating. “There’s a strong presence of gangs involved in this particular activity,” he said. “Gangs have been using window washing for recruitment and initiation.”

Sam said he did not think the instant fines focused on the real issues of poverty and homelessness in New Zealand.

“It’s a bit fucked, eh. […] I do this so I don’t have to steal and shit to eat each day. If someone offered me a job, yeah I’d take it. And I’ve been to the recruitment shit, the work and income meetings. But I’ve got myself to feed, my dog to feed, and the majority of people here are happy to chuck us a few dollars, or something to eat. And if they don’t want to? That’s cool, we leave them be.”

The bill passed its first reading 93 to 28, with opposition from New Zealand First, the Green Party, and the Māori Party.

Public submissions on the bill are open until June 1.

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