A petition to get seatbelts on school buses has amassed 6500 signatures.
Instigator Philippa Cameron, who is based at Otematata Station with her family, makes a 64km round trip twice a day to drive daughter Flora to and from school in Kurow. She is unhappy with the prospect of her 5-year-old making the trip without any type of restraint.
She started the petition because she made no headway when broaching the subject with Ritchies Coachlines, which provides the school bus run, nor with the Ministry of Transport.
Mrs Cameron said she was “very happy” with the number of signatures collected.
“When it comes to petitions, it doesn’t actually matter how many signatures you have. What you’re really wanting is a politician to pick it up, because it means nothing unless somebody presents it to parliament.”
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean would be receiving the petition from Mrs Cameron in Wellington, on May 19.
Mrs Cameron, who gathered a lot of support through her large Instagram following, would also be joined by representatives from Federated Farmers, NZ Rural Women, St John and New Zealand Farming for the presentation.
She was grateful for the support received and said it showed the issue needed attention.
“I think they’ve seen a need for so long that now we’ve finally got good momentum on it, they’re very eager to see something happen.”
Mrs Cameron said she wanted to clarify a misconception that she wanted buses to be retrofitted with seatbelts.
“I’m not asking for that. I’ve never once said retrofit school buses. Because retrofitting a school bus means a lap belt, which is so dangerous.
“We’re saying all new fleets. Giving them a timeline and saying in 10 years, your fleet should have brand new buses with seatbelts for school bus runs.”
Mrs Dean said she was “totally in support” of what Mrs Cameron was doing.
“I think the fact that she has attracted the support of Federated Farmers and Rural Women really says that this is an important issue, and I’m very happy to be taking it on her behalf to parliament.”
The petition would be taken to the Petition Committee. From there it was decided where the petition should go.
“It might go to an education committee, it might go to a transport subject matter select committee. So it goes on to that committee, and then the committee decides itself what to do to it,” she said.
“It may well open for more public submission. I would imagine it would want to hear a bit more about the petition from Pip herself, and then it just goes through the usual petition select committee process.”
Mrs Dean said although a petition was not judged purely on the number of signatures it had, a good number was important because it showed a level of support for a cause.
After the petition was presented it could take months to get a result, Mrs Dean said.
“The ultimate result is a recommendation to parliament.
“That’s all a petition can do, is recommend to parliament that a certain action be taken or not taken.”
If the select committee recommended parliament make changes to provide for seatbelts on school buses, it was then up to the Government to decide whether they pick it up and take it further, she said.
“The petition process itself is a very good way of highlighting issues of concern to the community.”