Mike Yardley, The Press, Current Affairs column.
THE CALL FOR A CRACKDOWN ON FARM QUAD BIKES.
Quad bike carnage has eclipsed beach drownings in the holiday season headlines, firing up calls for mandatory safety practises. Within hours of the Boxing Day death of a Southland teenager, who lost control and went over a cliff on a quad bike, Federated Farmers healthy and safety spokeswoman, Jeanette Maxwell pounced to argue that the tragedy was not “farm related”, but recreational. However, the 16 year old had in fact been lent the quad bike, while visiting friends on a farm. 80% of last year’s quad bike fatalities were farm related. And quad bikes account for nearly a third of all work-related injuries on farms. Federated Farmers claims it’s constantly pushing the safety messages. But the hills and plains are alive with the “she’ll be right” attitude. Did you notice on the TV news this week, every single farmer pictured on a quad bike, was not wearing a helmet? Quad bike riding requires appropriate training. They’re not toys, they have a high centre of gravity and the new models are incredibly powerful. A moment’s inattention or distraction can spell disaster. The notion of kids riding these machines is nuts. On public roads, a slew of laws already apply. But as much as high-minded townie coroners want farm use to be straight-jacketed with mandatory regulations, enforceability is a fantasy. How far can we go to save people, from themselves? Are we going to place all farms, many who view red-tape like a noxious weed, under round-the-clock satellite surveillance?
How many of the 17,400 unemployed Cantabrians are actually gaming the welfare system? 40% of our registered unemployed are under 24, some of who featured in Wendy McPherson’s (Press January 8) gob-smacking overview of her job interview talent pool. The government’s shake-up to the unemployment benefit, whereby you must actively seek full-time work, is clearly being rorted. It’s one thing to rock up to an interview in your pyjama pants, or to showcase your tongue-piercing, but the anecdotal evidence is clear that some interviewees are shamelessly going through the motions, merely to get a box ticked for the satisfaction of Work & Income. With thousands of young Cantabs parked up on the dole, the call for unskilled labour to be imported from overseas is insupportable. The greater priority is to bring these Kim Kardashian-following freeloaders to their senses, and blow-torch the easy ride of entitlement.
As much as removing potential home hazards makes eminent sense, the Earthquake Commission wasn’t formed to be an asbestos removal service. If the asbestos isn’t damaged or deteriorating, the taxpayer can’t be expected to fork-out mega bucks on this incidental service. Homeowners who aren’t satisfied with encasement, should elect to pay for its removal, themselves.