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Repeal of Act not all good news for disabled

Paul Hutchison MP
National Party Disability Issues Spokesman

30 November 2007

Repeal of Act not all good news for disabled

Disabilities Minister Ruth Dyson should admit that the repeal of the Disabled Persons in Employment Act is not all good news for disabled people, says National’s Disability Issues spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.

“Ruth Dyson says the law change which comes into effect today is ‘part of a package of wider changes aimed at ensuring that the voice of disabled New Zealanders is heard and acted upon’.

“She also claims the Government has undertaken ‘extensive consultation’ with disabled people and their families.

“If that’s the case, why doesn’t she tell us that many disabled people and their families are devastated by the changes that will see hundreds of disabled people out of work.

“Many non-profit businesses cannot afford to pay disabled people the minimum wage, and cries of ‘we don’t care about the minimum wage, we just want to work’ are reverberating throughout the country.

“If the law change is so good for the disabled community, why is it that at some sheltered workshops, around 95% of workers have been given exemptions from the minimum wage?

“The Department of Labour admits there are anomalies associated with the law change, which means some disabled workers will be worse off financially.

“The new law also creates another layer of bureaucracy and added costs for providers, and in many cases impractical and highly bureaucratic requirements are being placed on disabled people to become self-employed.

“Labour has introduced this new law with undue haste.

“National agrees with the New Zealand Disability Strategy and Pathways to Inclusion, but both should be practical and friendly to the disabled community and provide a range of choices for all levels of disability.”

Ends


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