7 Feb 2017

Tourist driver petition to be presented to Parliament next week

From Checkpoint, 5:20 pm on 7 February 2017

A grieving mother will take a petition to Parliament calling for tourists to have to sit a licence test before they can drive in New Zealand. 

Judy Richards, whose son, Rhys Middleton, was killed by a tourist driver a year ago, will hand the petition to NZ First leader Winston Peters on Tuesday.

Her petition says any tourist driver visiting for longer than three months must sit a full driver's license test before they get behind the wheel, or, at the least, sit an online test.

Jieling Xiao hit Mr Middelton's motorbike on the Napier-Taupo Highway on 7 February last year.  

Xiao had never driven on an open road at speeds of more than 50 kilometres an hour. 

Her erratic driving before the fatal crash concerned other motorists. She was jailed for 17 months, but was deported after serving only two.

"The woman who hit Rhys said that she would be quite happy to sit a New Zealand test if it was a requirement.

"She said if she knew it was available she would have been better equipped and this accident would never had happened," Mrs Richards said.

Journalist and former Newshub co-chief of staff Karen Rutherford will join Mrs Richards at Parliament on Tuesday. She is still recovering physically and psychologically after a tourist driver hit her five months ago.

"This is just a small test and if people aren't prepared to come here and sit the test they shouldn't be coming here," Ms Rutherford said.

Mrs Richards hopes to have 10,000 signatures before she hands over her petition.

"Please don't think it will never happen to you because, one day, it just might," she said.