Natz discriminate against disabled | The Jackal

21 May 2013

Natz discriminate against disabled

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

On any number of counts, the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Bill represents a particularly sorry piece of law-making.

Both its content and the manner in which it made its way through Parliament warrant the strongest criticism. The bill, which allots $23 million annually to people who care for disabled adult family members, was passed under urgency, denying public input through select committee hearings. To add insult, official advice from the Health Ministry on the legislation was heavily censored, with whole sections of the 28-page document blacked out.

It's unusual for an editorial in the NZ Herald to be so critical of the National party. With a plethora of equally bad legislative changes since 2008, one would think that such articles would be more commonplace.

The legislation limits the liability of the Government. Payments of the minimum wage are limited to adults assessed as having high or very high needs. It is estimated that the cost would jump to $65 million a year if payments were extended to all carers and all disabled adults.

In the normal course of events, those rendered ineligible by the legislation would surely mount a legal challenge to see if the Government's policy complied with the verdict of the Court of Appeal. But under the legislation people can no longer bring unlawful discrimination complaints about the new law or any family care policy to the Human Rights Commission or take court proceedings.

National should really listen to what the editor has to say... Instead we have John Key claiming:

Prime Minister John Key has defended the urgent passing of controversial legislation which restricted who could be paid for caring for disabled family members, saying that the Government faced further legal action if the law was not changed.

The government would normally face further legal action by discriminating against those who are eligible as a carer of disabled family members. But to impede the course of justice we have National trying to limit their liability by acting undemocratically.

Mr Key said that the Government risked further legal challenges if it did not change the law. "There are lots of permutations and combinations which could pose a very significant liability on future governments." He also said the Minister of Health was looking at similar cases which could be taken against the Government.

The parents as caregivers case was initially lodged with the Human Rights Commission over 14 years ago, and has been dragged through the courts since September 2008. National and Labour have both been fighting tooth and nail against the HRC and court rulings all the way.

The governments appeal against the decision by the high court was more recently dismissed, yet we still have National trying to avoid their responsibilities and essentially continue to discriminate against families with disabled members.

Clearly people who look after disabled family members should be financially supported. In my opinion, that financial help should be in proportion to the disability the family member has, not subject to continued discrimination that doesn't uphold the courts ruling.

Ensuring all disabled people get the assistance they require would amount to a fraction of the Ministry of Health's enormous budget. That means this isn't a financial decision, or even a legal one made for the reasons dishonest John outlines.

It's about National not wanting families with disabled members to stick to together... It's about National wanting to further discriminate against the disabled to ensure they cannot attain the dignity they deserve.