17 Apr 2018

Watch: Minister speaks over 'bottom feeder' wheel clampers

9:54 am on 17 April 2018

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi speaks to Morning Report the government works on legislation to ban or regulate wheel clamping by parking enforcement officers.

Mr Faafoi speaks to Morning Report in the Wellington studio:

There is no limit to what someone can charge for removing a clamp from the wheel of a car parked on private property, as the industry operates under a voluntary code of conduct.

The Automobile Association has previously told RNZ wheel clamping should be banned, and Transport Minister Phil Twyford called the parking enforcers who used the practice "bottom feeders".

Mr Faafoi said his colleague's comments were expressing the frustrations of most New Zealanders.

"The frustration most New Zealanders feel when they see another story of - the typical one - of a grandmother being asked to fork out $600 or $700 almost instantly to get their car back."

"I think we're going to make it quite clear that, no, for far too long this has been going on and something's got to be done about it."

"There's no legislation or mechanism in place for us to do anything, and I think most New Zealanders want us to do something about it."

He said from the evidence he had seen to date, a ban was one of the options being looked at but was probably not the right solution, with the main problem being the costs people were being asked to pay.

"I think I saw something in the media the other day about $700, which is obviously exorbitant, usually people can ill afford to pay it.

"The frustration has been the amounts of money people have been asked to cough up immediately but banning outright might just cause another problem and it's our duty to get the solution right and don't cause another problem."

Balancing that up with the property rights of people who own a car park if someone is wrongly parked there is the balance we're trying to get.

"If you owned a carpark and people were illegally parked there, or wrongly parked there, or parked there when they knew they weren't meant to, then I think you do have some recourse."

Hundreds of dollars was not acceptable, he said, but he refused to set down a price on air this morning.

"$600 and $700 is not acceptable, but balancing that up with property rights is where we're trying to get, we're not quite there yet.

"We've also got to look at issues around enforcement, making sure that if we put a price on what is acceptable how do we enforce that and that's some of the work that we're asking officials to get done to make sure it actually works.

He said he had not personally spoken to industry members about the problem.

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