All Philippa Cameron wants is for children to get to school safely.
The Otematata mother says she has become a spokesperson for all parents whose children travel to school by bus, after launching a petition to make seatbelts compulsory on school buses.
Last week, Mrs Cameron’s petition was heard by Parliament’s petitions committee, after being presented to Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean on the steps of Parliament in May.
Mrs Cameron said while last week’s hearing was a great opportunity to speak to members of parliament about the issue, it had been a long process to get to the petitions committee stage and there was still no resolution in sight.
“I don’t know how much more I’ve got in me,” she said.
“I’m not qualified, and I’m not an aspiring politician. I’m just a mum who wants her kids to get to school safely.”
In her submission, Mrs Cameron, who lives at Otematata Station with husband Joe and daughters Flora (6) and Evelyn (4), told MPs about the 64km round trip she makes twice a day to drive Flora to school in Kurow, because she was not comfortable with her daughter travelling on the school bus without any type of restraint.
While Mrs Cameron was in a position to drive her daughter to school every day, many people were not able to make the same sacrifice, she said.
She made her submission via Zoom, due to Covid-19 restrictions. She had planned to speak to her submission to Parliament in person and to take her youngest daughter with her as an example of the vulnerable children being placed in “tin cans” each day.
Current legislation “defied logic” and was full of contradictions, she said.
When Flora started school she weighed less than 18kg and was only 108cm tall.
“So I would be required by law to put her in a five-point harness to travel [by car] to the bus stop but under the current requirements, she would be able to travel on the school bus for that 32km unrestrained.
“Although the bus driver would wear their seatbelt as required by law.”
Mrs Cameron acknowledged there were differences between urban and rural settings, and knew legislation change would be tricky.
But she would continue to go through the motions and stand up at all the right times to have her voice, and the voices of the 6500 people who signed her petition, heard.
“I just hope someone sees the logic and the sensibility in it all,” she said.
“We’re putting our future on these buses.”
It was encouraging that some bus companies, such as Go Bus, which has been awarded the Waitaki Valley school bus contract for next year, were updating their fleets with buses fitted with seatbelts.
“The bus companies are starting to see that pressure from schools and from families.”
Mrs Dean said the petitions committee had sought and received advice on the issue, and after hearing from Mrs Cameron last week, MPs would meet in a closed setting to discuss where to take it.
“We’re now at the stage where we are considering what we might recommend to the Government,” she said.
“We can’t put a timeline on it, but I don’t like to sit around on petitions for too long. We will certainly report back on it within the next couple of months, if not sooner.”