Bill to strengthen HRC passes first reading
Hon Judith Collins
Minister of Justice
5 November 2013
Bill to strengthen Human Rights Commission passes first reading
Justice Minister Judith Collins has welcomed the first reading in Parliament of a bill strengthening the role and structure of the Human Rights Commission.
The Human Rights Amendment Bill amends the Human Rights Act 1993 to change the composition, governance arrangements, functions and powers of the Commission.
“The Human Rights Amendment Bill will ensure the Commission takes a leadership role in emerging human rights issues, such as disability rights, in addition to its current focus on race relations and equal employment opportunities,” Ms Collins says.
The Human Rights Amendment Bill will:
replace the current mix of
full-time and part-time commissioners with full-time
provide that a commissioner, other than the Chief Commissioner, be appointed to lead work in the following priority areas:
race relations, equal employment opportunities and disability rights,
other specialised priority areas of human rights (as designated by the Chief Commissioner, after consultation with the Minister of Justice and the Commission), and
revise the Commission’s functions to better reflect its current responsibilities.
“Race relations, equal employment opportunities and disability rights generate the most inquiries and complaints to the Commission. It is important that the Act emphasises these areas and allows for the creation of formal leadership roles in other priority areas that may emerge in the future.
“Moving to all full-time Commissioners will enable the Commission to better focus on the human rights issues that are most important to New Zealanders.
“In particular, a dedicated Disability Rights Commissioner will enable the Commission to make a real difference to the lives of people with disabilities.
“The Bill will deliver better results for the most vulnerable groups, and ensure that everyone benefits from a society that respects and understands human rights,” Ms Collins says.
The Human Rights Amendment Bill has been referred to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, where anyone with an interest in human rights issues will have an opportunity to have their say on the Bill.