Disabled Community Further Marginalised by Proposed Bill
Disabled Community Further Marginalised by Proposed Building Amendment Bill for Earthquake Prone Buildings to the Building Act.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand, an organisation which supports people living with neuromuscular conditions, believes the Government’s proposal to amend the Building Act regarding earthquake prone buildings, will further marginalise the disabled community and goes against basic human rights.
The proposed amendment to the Building Act will mean that any building owner undertaking work to strengthen their public access building, in order to ensure it is earthquake proof, won’t have to comply with the current Building Act requirement (sections 113 and 118), which specifies the inclusion of access to the disabled in any building changes or upgrades.
MDA Chief Executive, Chris Higgins says, “People with disabilities associated with neuromuscular conditions and the disabled community as a whole, are legally entitled to the same rights of citizenship, inclusion and access to public facilities as all other New Zealanders. The Amendment represents an erosion of these rights and it should therefore be removed”.
The MDA has made a detailed submission to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee and hopes to see the amendment removed. The MDA also believes that section 133AX risks widely varying interpretations which will result in a “postcode lottery” in respect of access to public buildings and facilities in different parts of the country. This is because there are no common criteria available to territorial authorities to enable them to consistently determine whether being “no longer earthquake- prone outweighs any detriment that is likely to arise as a result of the building code that relates to access and facilities for persons with disabilities”.