Whanganui squeegee 'bandit' Stephen Manihera says he may be forced onto a benefit if a proposed new law outlaws car windscreen washers.

A bill which will see window washers at intersections fined $150 on the spot has passed its first reading in Parliament with support from both National and Labour.

The bill submitted by National MP Jami-Lee Ross aims to make windscreen washing at intersections illegal, giving police the power to issue washers with $150 instant fines, reports said.

Mr Manihera says he'd rather local councils regulate and enforce the practice.


"We don't have the same issues here in Whanganui that they have in Auckland or Wellington," Mr Manihera said.

"We don't have youth gangs at the lights here. We don't intimidate drivers and we go out of our way to be respectful and maybe put a smile on their dial with a joke or something."

Mr Manihera has worked local intersections for two years and said there were initial problems involving some windscreen washers who were perhaps a bit overly zealous about approaching drivers.

"But we have (unwritten) rules and our own code of conduct and we'd be lucky if there was one complaint a season now."

He supports a draft Whanganui District Council by-law that may require windscreen washers to obtain a permit.

"That will allow council to regulate how they want us to behave, where we can operate and that sort of thing. I'm all for that and would be happy to apply for a permit and comply with the conditions."

Mr Manihera says he relies on the income he gets from washing windscreens and if banned he may need to apply for a benefit.

He works part-time at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre but says that is not sufficient to feed his family.


He has applied for several jobs but has not been successful in obtaining full-time employment as yet.

SQUEEGEE BANDIT:Stephen Manihera says council should regulate windscreen washers.
SQUEEGEE BANDIT:Stephen Manihera says council should regulate windscreen washers.

"It's not big money (washing windscreens) but it allows me to bring home a bread and milk."

Mayor Hamish McDouall said he was uncertain what impact, if any, the national bill will have on a proposed by-law.

As it stands the proposed by-law, Trading in Public Places, will require permits for a raft of activities including windscreen washing and is under consideration by council.

He was uncertain if the national bill, once law, would outlaw windscreen washers completely, or if there will still be room for the activity to continue. If the later, he said the by-law would require windscreen washers to apply for a permit.

"The by-law proposed, as I understand it, does not outlaw windscreen washers but will give council the powers to ensure those who carry it out do so safely and within set guidelines."

Mr Ross' bill needs 61 votes to move to select committee where the public will be asked to make submissions.

It passed its first reading by 93 votes to 28. It was supported by National, Labour, Act and United Future but was opposed by the Green Party, Maori Party and NZ First.

The bill would amend the Land Transport Act, making it an offence to wash vehicles in a manner that may be unsafe or cause a nuisance to any person.