Miniature Railway Shuts

kapiti miniature railway‘Putting an end to having fun’

By Chris Turver

Issues surrounding  the inept handling by WorkSafe New Zealand of its decision to shut down Kapiti Miniature Railway, one of the icons of our coast, will go far beyond our district boundary.

Hopefully Minister of Business, Innovation & Employment Steven Joyce will call for a report on yet another politically-correct approach designed to put an end to having fun.

Of course there must be safe practices but the WorkSafe decision basically says that everything we do must be risk-free.

At stake is our right, within reason, to personal choice.

No serious problems before

Kapiti Miniature Railway has been around for years with no serious accidents and a history of professionalism which has turned it into one of Kapiti’s most popular attractions.   Children are banned from travelling on the train unless accompanied by a responsible person.

Worksafe New Zealand is a brand new agency of state, formally starting work on 16 December – just a month or so ago – and clearly out to make its mark to justify its existence.

Here’s what it set out as its No 1 priority: “WorkSafe will target businesses at high risk of acute, chronic, or catastrophic harms or where there is a history of risk, without placing an unnecessary burden on low-risk business.”

Clearly Kapiti Miniature Railway fits none of these descriptions and yet within the start-up timeframe of WorkSafe it was targeted as a high risk business.

Getting a soft run on the board

WorkSafe failed Kapiti Miniature Railway on all counts and was more concerned about getting some soft runs on the board than targeting genuine safety cot cases.

If this is an example of WorkSafe’s priority targets then other highly-popular Kapiti activities may well face the heavy hand of officialdom. 

For instance, should all swimmers at public pools, rivers, or even in the sea, wear lifejackets to prevent drowning. 

Should all cyclists keep off the roads to stop accidents. 

Where will it stop?    We all face challenges every day of our lives.  The choice is still ours whether to ‘give it a go’.    Let’s not allow ourselves to be beaten into submission to the point where commonsense and enjoyment of life is the loser.

You might like to share your thoughts with WorkSafe NZ Chief Executive Professor Gregor Coster at gregor.coster@worksafe.govt.

(Chris Turver has been involved with the Kapiti community and local government since he came here in 1988. 

 He is currently the chairman of the Electra Trust, vice-president of Paraparaumu RSA & Community Cub, on the management committee of Te Horo Rural Fire Force, a foundation member of Kapiti Chamber of Commerce, and Patron of Kapiti Coastguard.)