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Commission seeks select committee consideration

Human Rights Commission

10 December, 2008


Commission seeks select committee to consider 90-day bill

The Human Rights Commission has urgently requested the Government to reconsider its decision not to allow the 90-day bill to go to a select committee.

“Rushed legislation is potentially risky legislation and this is a fundamental change to employment law which requires serious consideration,” said Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor.

In letters to the Ministers of Labour and Justice, the Commission said “The select committee process is an important check and balance where both employers and employee rights can be debated in a measured way. Submissions to select committees reinforce democratic principles of transparency, participation and accountability.”

Often unintended consequences of proposed legislation are identified at select committee stage and wrinkles ironed out.

Select committee debate also allows for greater political understanding of opposing viewpoints and for better consideration of the impact of legislation on the lives of New Zealanders.

In some cases this debate and reflection has led to a greater consensus around controversial and divisive issues, Dr McGregor said.

The Human Rights Commission had been preparing to submit on the proposed legislation to the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee. Now the Commission and other stakeholders such as business, trade unions, the recruitment and human resources industry have been denied their opportunity to support or oppose or suggest amendments to the bill.

“There appears to be no compelling need given the current economic conditions to take short cuts in the political process or for such urgency on this proposed legislation,” Dr McGregor said.

The Commission was concerned that the proposed legislation could impact negatively on school leavers seeking their first job and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups wanting and needing employment. It would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the competing human rights issues with members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee.

ENDS

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