Government putting pilots and passengers at risk

A Members’ Bill that would have strengthened the current law around laser-pointing has been voted down by the Government, putting pilots and their passengers at risk, MP for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker says.

“My High-power Laser Pointer Offences and Penalties Bill will address this by making our skies safer by introducing harsher penalties for offenders who point high-power lasers at aircrafts,” Mr Walker says.

The Bill proposes to double the maximum fine to $4000 and double the term of imprisonment from three to six months. It will also make it an offence to have a high-power laser in possession in both public and private places.

“Pilots have been calling out for harsher penalties but this soft on crime Government seems content putting lives at risk rather than supporting my Members Bill. My Bill would not only deter offenders but also raise awareness about this issue,” Mr Walker says.

“It’s clear the current law isn’t strong enough. Laser incidents have increased 130 per cent in the past four years, and recent incidents provide a further example as to how much the law needs to change.

“In February this year, a man was arrested for flashing a laser at the Police’s Eagle helicopter in Christchurch. In the same month, two planes at Wellington Airport were also targeted, putting multiple lives at risk.

“The safety of our pilots and their passengers is paramount and anyone who interferes with that should be punished appropriately. It’s incredibly disappointing the Government has chosen to put politics before safety and not supported this sensible piece of legislation.”