Opinion: Buried in the bluster Peters finds a good idea

Perhaps it is time we made getting a drivers licence a high school subject
Perhaps it is time we made getting a drivers licence a high school subject

New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters was at his finest on the weekend - full, frank, furious and fricking meaningless.

"National is a bum with five cheeks," he chortled.

National and Labour are Tweddle-dum and Tweedle-dumber, he said with a self-satisfied grin, like it was almost his own work.

The New Zealand First loyalists will laugh and chuckle and have heart murmurs in the aisles, but it's a repeat of what we have seen for 20 years. It's damn boring.

Let's face it - this is a party full of gruff grumps who want their country back, whatever that means. Sigh.

But amongst the "bulls**t 'n' bluster", Mr Peters tripped over a reasonable idea that needs exploring.

Perhaps it is time we made getting a drivers licence a high school subject. Mr Peters might have stumbled across this during a dark conversation in a corner bar, but it warrants a better look.

His idea looks slightly clumsy right now, but the sentiment is right.

He wants to pull in mums and dads and a few grandparents to help teach the students. No, that's lame. Do it properly.

Let's make it more serious than that. Let's make it part of the curriculum, which I think is what he's saying. I note having it as part of NCEA is Labour policy already.

In my work I often hear from parents and students that the thing holding their teenagers back from getting their apprenticeship is the fact they have no drivers licence. They can't get to the first day on the job, or the second. And the bosses want reliable young people.

We have entirely capable young men and women, fit and willing to work in a trade, but they are disadvantaged by having no drivers licence. It's either too expensive or they haven't got around to it.

I heard this complaint recently from the people running the building school at Onehunga High School.

We desperately need more young tradesmen and women. Let's start by helping them get their licence as soon as we can. Let's make it easier for them; right now there are too many barriers.

Who gives a toss whom Mr Peters is going with after the next election? He'll continue to play these time-consuming games. Let's not play it with him.

He wants to be a major player to increase his leverage. That's obvious.

Let's focus on policy. Let's hold his feet to the fire on this idea and pressure the Government to introduce it earlier.

Getting young people their drivers licence at school so they can get to their first job is a brilliant idea. 

What are we waiting for?

The free driver license training would be "part and parcel of the educational cost of common sense training and tuition for our secondary school children".

"If you want to get a young Maori and give him a reason why he should learn English, here's one. If you learn enough of this you can get a licence. Now, for many people whose pathway is not academia, they need to know why they should bother to learn this subject," Mr Peters said.

"If you don't, you'll never be able to legally drive on our roads and become mobile in the workforce."

The driver licence training would be done over however many hours were needed for each student to pass.

Mr Peters also plans to use mums and dads and grandparents as volunteers to teach driving.

"I'm going to ask mothers and fathers who are skilled at driving, give us a help here ... Most of us had Mum and Dad take us for a drive down the streets in the good old days."

Last year Labour proposed driver testing be done in schools or potentially as part of NCEA. At the time, Education Minister Hekia Parata said it was already available as part of the curriculum and many schools taught driving during class hours.