CSS Disability Action backs calls for mobility park abusers to be slapped with demerit points as Government commits to review fines

CSS Disability Action receives hundreds of reports every day of mobility parking abuse.
CSS Disability Action receives hundreds of reports every day of mobility parking abuse. Photo credit: Supplied

New Zealand's largest disability advocacy organisation is supporting calls on the Government to issue demerit points to motorists who park in mobility spaces without permits. 

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Simeon Brown has confirmed the Government is committed to undertaking a full review on the issue.  

Disability advocate Claire Dale first took her petition to Parliament in February 2022, calling for increased penalties for people who park in mobility parks without a permit across public and private land.   

This week her petition, which also recommends enforcing demerit points, is "finally being listened to".  

Dale has received confirmation the Government will be debating the petition on Thursday, following discussions with the Select Committee. 

"The current fine of $150 was last changed in 2008, up from $30. I am aware there has been no change since then and that is not good enough," she told Newshub.  

"It's time abuse of mobility parking was properly enforced. I have spent four years working on this now and I'm just glad it's finally being listened to.  

"I would love for de-merit points to be issued to offenders or, at the least, an increase in fine of up to $500 per offence."  

Government action  

Brown confirmed with Newshub the Government will be conducting a full review on the issue.  

"I have directed the Ministry of Transport to undertake a review of parking fees, which will include the review of mobility parking fines," he said.  

"A range of fine increases will be considered as part of this review."  

Brown said he shares Dale's frustrations and "welcomes her petition".  

"People who choose to disregard the rules and park in mobility parks they are not entitled to use cause a great deal of frustration and inconvenience from the Kiwis who have reduced mobility."  

Dale told Newshub the recommendations she has received from the Select Committee "are in line" with what she hopes for.  

A Ministry of Transport spokesperson told Newshub the review will be taken in the second half of this year.

"Recommendations of the review will be provided to the Minister of Transport."

One photo supplied to Newshub shows a vehicle parked over three mobility parks.
One photo supplied to Newshub shows a vehicle parked over three mobility parks. Photo credit: Supplied

Mobility parking abuse 'nothing new'  

CSS Disability Action says it receives "constant reports" of people abusing mobility parks without permits and "are completely backing Dale's petition".  

Access coordinator Raeywn Hailes told Newshub she is "incredibly outraged" at the "self-entitled" people who take away the rights of those with mobility permits.  

"The abuse is huge. Mobility parking abuse is massive," she said. 

"It's an ongoing battle that people with impairments have every day, the abuse is nothing new."  

When asked how many reports CSS receives on a weekly basis, Hailes responded: "All the time, constantly... I get hundreds of reports every day. 

"Someone in Auckland parks their Lamborghini in a mobility park because they want to be able to see it from their office window," she said. "They pay thousands of dollars a month in fines. They are continually getting infringement notices but it is still cost-effective for them to park in a mobility car park."  

She said "examples like these" frustrate her. 

"There is a small percentage of the population who don't have any empathy for why mobility parks are needed. 

"The width of a disability car park is necessary to provide enough room for people to actually get in and out of their cars because in a standard carpark you can barely get the door open sometimes."  

Hailes said some disabled people haven't been able to find parks outside hospitals or medical practices, "which raises some serious issues".  

"The alternative is that those people will just go home and become isolated, and they don't get the medical care they need, then things go wrong and they end up in hospital."  

Cars without permits have been seen illegally parking in disabled car parks.
Cars without permits have been seen illegally parking in disabled car parks. Photo credit: Supplied

'De-merit points would see a major difference'  

Hailes believes offenders must face "severe consequences" if New Zealand is to see change.  

"I honestly think if there were de-merit points involved, we would see some major difference," she said.  "Unless it's some sort of really strong consequence, then it's not going to impact on that percentage of the population.  

"Repeat offenders within a period should definitely get a de-merit," she said.   

Hailes admitted she is "outraged" after photos emerged of Kiwi rapper Tom Francis' Lamborghini parked in two mobility parks without a permit, within five days.  

One image shows his vehicle in a disabled park in Taupō on March 10, while a second shows it in a mobility spot at Auckland's Albany Westfield Mall on Friday.  

"There is just no excuse for doing that," Hailes said. "That minute might have been the minute where someone with a mobility permit drove past and couldn't get a park."  

She stressed the importance of disabled Kiwis having access to wider car parks.  

"Mobility parks make a massive difference to the ability of people with impairments to live an independent life," she explained. "People who use any kind of mobility aid, whether it's a wheelchair or older people with a walker - it is essential for them to be able to get into a wider car park," she said.  

The Ministry of Transport are conducting a full review of the issue later this year.
The Ministry of Transport are conducting a full review of the issue later this year. Photo credit: Supplied

'Happening on a daily basis'  

Disability Minister Penny Simmonds told Newshub there is a "lack of understanding" when it comes to the need for mobility parking.  

"We, in many ways, are relying on the decency of people to understand that mobility parking is there for people with genuine needs," she said. 

Simmonds said reports on illegal mobility parking are "one of the hottest issues".  

"It's something happening on a daily basis that is impacting people." 

When asked what she thinks of people using the spaces, who don't have a permit, she described their actions as "inconsiderate to people with disabilities".   

"It's a really big issue that infuriates people and most able-bodied people are angered by it too."  

Simmonds said she is pleased the Ministry of Transport will be conducting a review.  

"We are keen to work with them and see that being progressed".  

When asked if the review could see an increase in fines, Simmonds responded: "I certainly hope so. 

Simmonds will be attending the debate on Dale's petition in Parliament on Thursday.   

"We are well behind what Australia and others are doing. I think all of us are very keen to see this change."