Louise Upston: Gun buy back

Louise Upston’s Coffee Catch Up was a small but interesting meeting for those who attended.

If the government is going to ban guns, then the buy back scheme is the right way to go, Louise Upston said at her Coffee Catch Up meeting in Cambridge earlier this month. “I just worry that they haven’t budgeted enough.”

The Cambridge-based Taupo electorate MP said some of the original estimates for the budget had been from 500 million to over a billion. It’s now set at $208 million. “I don’t know how they came up with that figure. … I think the difficulty will be how serious are they about reimbursing people.”

Guns in new or near new condition are eligible for 95 per cent of their base price, with 70 per cent for guns in a used condition and 25 per cent for guns in poor condition.

So far over 840 firearms have been handed to police, with online forms indicating a further 8000 will be handed in by owners.

A few complaints had been made at the MP’s Cambridge office, but not much. She said the Sika Show in Taupo in September – promoted as the country’s biggest hunting and outdoor trade show – would provide a good indication to how the scheme is being received by the public. Upston’s office intends have a stall at the event.

“We’re expecting quite a lot of noise at that one. So that will probably tell us more about how it’s going in reality,” she said. “We think there will be quite a bit of discussion about the practicalities of what’s happened, and the next phase of legislation. It’s got to work.”

Stage 2 of the legislation, which will involve gun registration, would give a better idea of how many guns are in New Zealand, she said.

“I hope they’ll take more time over that, because what we did find challenging was the very tight time frame that they turned that piece of legislation around. I appreciate that it needed to be done quickly and we weren’t going to get in their way, but we did raise a number of issues along the way; one was how the mechanics of the buy back scheme would work. Because you don’t want someone to turn up to surrender their guns, get frustrated with that process, talk to their mates and then they decide they’re not going to do it.”

The Kiwi Party challenged the validity of the law in the High Court, hoping to delay the legislation until after the 2020 election, but the court tossed it out.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush last week indicated that he will not be revisiting the pricing list for the buyback scheme.

Once collected, the guns will be destroyed in a hydraulic press.

Small turnout for Coffee Catch Up meeting

Just four people turned out to Louise Upston’s Coffee Catch Up meeting on Thursday, July 4. One of those was Cambridge Community Board member Philip Coles, who expressed the board’s wishes to slow speeds on State Highway 1 at the Karapiro Rd and SH29 turn offs.

With speeds up for discussion at Waipa District Council recently, the State Highway roads weren’t included as they come under central government.

Coles reiterated that the board weren’t in favour of a blanket speed reduction, as discussed in the news recently, but urged speed changes at those two high risk intersections, or at least introduce measures such as signage and lights to help reduce speed and increase awareness. “Because right now there’s nothing,” he said.

“There’s clearly a balancing act,” Upston said, agreeing with the idea in principle. “If you lower the speed limits across the board people get more frustrated and, if they can’t pass, they pass in stupid places.”

Upston said instead of actually improving roads, Labour would be more inclined to simply reduce speeds on roads like State Highway 1.

The other main issues facing Cambridge at the moment, Upston said, were largely related to the growing population; the government’s growth plan and housing options, and the Ministry of Education’s slow response to schools needing more classrooms. She also listed business uncertainty and changes to the racing bill – which are moving TAB income decisions from parliament to the Minister of Racing – as hot topics of discussion in the area.

“And of course conscience votes … I think for every constituent I made happy, I would have made one unhappy with my vote!”

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