Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Lower drink driving limit bill likely to be passed

Parliament seeks to clear the decks before its final pre-election sitting tomorrow

The bill would lower the limit from 400mcg to 251mcg per litre of breath. Photo / Thinkstock
The bill would lower the limit from 400mcg to 251mcg per litre of breath. Photo / Thinkstock

One of the National-led Government's final acts in Parliament this term will be to lower the legal drink-driving limit, which means motorists will face stricter rules before Christmas.

The House rises ahead of the general election tomorrow, and the Government is aiming to cram in a number of bills in its last few days.

Parliament is expected to complete its debates on three major pieces of legislation which focus on drink-driving changes, compensation for war veterans and cutting council levies on new housing developments.

The progress of the Land Transport Amendment Bill would mean a new breath-alcohol limit would be introduced for drivers in December.

The bill, which has wide support, would lower the limit from 400mcg to 251mcg per litre of breath - a change which is the equivalent of two to three beers for the average adult.

A person caught driving between the new and the old limit would be fined $200 and 50 demerit points, while those exceeding the old limit would still face a criminal charge.

MPs are expected to complete the final reading of a bill which aims to improve housing affordability by limiting what councils can charge developers for new infrastructure.

Councils would still be able to levy for core infrastructure, such as transport, water and sewerage, but would have to rely on alternative funding, such as rates, to pay for community facilities, including parks, sports grounds and libraries.

Labour had some concerns about the proposals, but agreed to back the bill into law because it felt urgent measures were needed to relieve house prices.

Some pieces of legislation will not be passed this parliamentary term.

These include major labour reforms which would have limited collective bargaining rights and could have allowed employers to get rid of smoko breaks. The Employment Relations Amendment Bill stalled after Act's John Banks resigned from Parliament and left the Government to rely on the Maori Party, which opposed the changes.

Justice Minister Judith Collins' proposal to introduce "public protection orders" will not make it into law. The minister wanted authorities to have power to recall child sex offenders or violent criminals if they had finished a finite sentence and were at very high risk of reoffending.

The law change was designed to capture between five and 12 people - mostly sex offenders - who had been sentenced shortly before preventive detention was introduced.

Mrs Collins said the bill would remain a priority if National was re-elected, and in the meantime authorities had several other measures to monitor prisoners after their release.

Several non-controversial bills are expected to be passed into law this week, including a bill to establish a huge marine reserve in Kaikoura and changes to parliamentary privilege rules.

MPs will also make a start on a bill which would introduce a new charge for match-fixing and spot-fixing in New Zealand. The Government wants the legislation in place before the Cricket World Cup in February.


Last bills
• Local Government Amendment Bill.
• Veterans' Support Bill.
• Land Transport Amendment Bill.
• Parliamentary Privilege Bill.
• Kaikoura (Te Tai o Marokora) Marine Management Bill.

On hold
• Employment Relations Amendment Bill.
• Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill.
• Immigration Amendment Bill (No 2).
• Harmful Digital Communications Bill.

- NZ Herald

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