Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Winston Peters: Getting a drivers licence should be 'core subject' at school

On the campaign trail: Winston Peters. Photo / Christine McKay
On the campaign trail: Winston Peters. Photo / Christine McKay

Retirees would teach school students how to drive and getting a drivers licence would be a core subject, under New Zealand First policy.

Leader Winston Peters has closed the party's annual conference in Dunedin with a speech in which he attacked both National and Labour as part of the same "elite" who could not be compromised with.

And as polls indicate NZ First will hold the balance of power next year, Peters warned delegates to be ready for an early election.

Peters' speech at Dunedin's Glenroy Auditorium touched on familiar NZ First themes including regional neglect, the need to cut immigration and bias in the mainstream media.

The provinces were "dying a death of 1000 cuts", Peters said.

"They have created an out-of-control Super City in Auckland, and want the rest of New Zealand to pay for it."

The new policy announced was to make getting a drivers licence a "core subject" at secondary school level.

Peters told media afterwards that doing so would help improve law and order.

"Sixty per cent of the people who are committing crime in the Maori world, their first offence is driving without a licence. Because they haven't got the simple learning skills...to do the written stuff. They can do all the manual.

"If we were to address that, then we give a whole lot of young people a real chance to be part of the economy."

Peters said getting a licence could be part of a subject like English, and that there was a successful pilot scheme in the Hawke's Bay.

Asked if schools would actually train students how to drive, he indicated that could fall to community volunteers.

"Out there in all sorts of towns and cities in this country are a whole lot of old people who are willing to volunteer their time to...train people into getting a drivers licence. That's how simple it is.

"I'm going to ask mothers and fathers who are skilled at driving - give us a help here...most of us had mum and dad take us for a drive down the streets in the good old days."

In a "future of work" paper last year, Labour proposed teaching driving in all high schools or perhaps offering it as part of NCEA.

In response, Education Minister Hekia Parata said schools were already able to offer such teaching if they chose to, and a number of schools were teaching driver licence testing.

Peters speech likened Prime Minister John Key's political philosophy to that of the Kardashian family, who star in a reality tv show.

"[It] could be described as Key-dashian...all photo opportunities, a fair bit of something else, and shallow blokeyness."

He also had a swipe at Labour and Green politicians who recently stayed overnight in their cars to protest homelessness, and said many in Parliament were privileged and thought manual labour was "the prime minister of Mexico".

Peters told media he was sure National would call an early election.

"I think an early election is far more likely...the National Party is barely hanging on. They are making so many mistakes."

Today's drivers licence announcement comes after NZ First education spokeswoman Tracey Martin yesterday launched another education policy.

That was to deliver free tertiary education, provided graduates work in New Zealand for a time equivalent to length of study.

- NZ Herald

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