Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Building Act Exemption Unfair And Wrong

Building Act Exemption Unfair And Wrong


The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) this morning told the Local Government and Environment Select Committee that a proposed amendment to the Building Act, exempting owners from having to make their public buildings accessible, is unfair and wrong.

MDA Chief Executive Chris Higgins told the Committee that the exemption would discriminate against people with disabilities by denying them access to public buildings, and would risk further marginalising them from their communities and society.

Mr Higgins said that the exemption would be contrary to current legal requirements including the Building Act itself (which makes it mandatory for public buildings to be accessible to people with disabilities), the Human Rights Act (which makes it unlawful to deny a person access to a place because the person has a disability), and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which states that the government must take measures to ensure people with disabilities have the right to access the physical environment on an equal basis with others).

“The proposed exemption will be unworkable” Mr Higgins said. “How will territorial local authorities possibly be able to decide whether being no longer earthquake-prone outweighs any detriment that is likely to arise as a result of the building not being accessible? And if they do make such decisions who will ensure that they’re being made consistently across the country so that accessibility does not become a postcode lottery?” he asked.

MDA National Council Chairperson Lindsay McGregor told the Committee that the proposed exemption is unnecessary.

“We understand that it was introduced in response to an assumption that adhering to the accessibility requirements of the Building Act may make earthquake strengthening prohibitively expensive. We do not accept that this will be the case.” Mr McGregor said. “Accessibility can usually be provided for relatively inexpensively and in rare cases where this is not the case there will be financing options that can be negotiated or arranged to enable the costs to be met. This bit of extra effort that may be required by a building owner should not be a reason to be exempted from the Act.”

Mr McGregor informed the Committee that the Muscular Dystrophy Association itself had addressed a similar issue about two years ago.

“Our previous National Office premises had significant accessibility issues so we purchased premises elsewhere and upgraded them so that they are now fully accessible. The upgrade required considerable effort, but we found a way through it. Our point is that if a charity with limited funds and insecure revenue streams can make its premises accessible, then anybody should be able to.”

The Muscular Dystrophy Association represents over 1100 members with muscular dystrophy and a range of other neuromuscular conditions. All of the conditions are associated with progressive muscle weakness and/or loss of muscle function associated with progress and varying degrees of physical disability, often requiring permanent use of a wheelchair or power wheelchair for mobility. All conditions covered by the MDA are genetic, they are often unpredictable and may affect anybody at any age, they are sometimes hereditary, there are no cures, effective treatment options are very limited and where they do exist they are not available through the New Zealand public health system.

It is conservatively estimated that in New Zealand there are 4400 people with one of the 40+ conditions covered by the MDA.
~ end ~


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Parliament Today:

The Kids: OECD Report Shows Huge Impact Of Poverty On Education

A new report from the OECD has again highlighted the negative effects of poverty, showing that disadvantaged children in New Zealand are more than six times more likely to underachieve in maths than children from wealthier homes. More>>

ALSO:

Pacific: NZ Pledges $500,000 To Help Address Zika

“With the Zika virus now confirmed in a number of Pacific countries, New Zealand is committed to helping limit the impact and spread of the virus in the region,” says Mr McCully. “New Zealand will provide $250,000 as a contribution to the WHO to implement the Pacific Zika Action Plan, and a further $250,000 to enable countries in the region to respond rapidly if required." More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Police Commissioner 'Doesn’t Get Force Needs'

The Police Commissioner has let down the public and his own force by insisting the police have what they need despite it taking a year to solve a burglary and overwhelming number of officers saying they are under-resourced, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Pressure To Expand Our Role In Iraq

Foreign news services are being more forthcoming about what the “next 12 months” will entail – essentially, the defence ministers will be under US pressure to increase their “training” role preparatory to an assault on the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Restarts: Prime Minister’s Statement

Our policy agenda and legislative programme will reflect the Government’s four priorities: • to responsibly manage the Government’s finances • to build a more competitive and productive economy • to deliver better public services to New Zealanders, an • to support the rebuilding of Christchurch. More>>

ALSO:

NZEI Survey Report: Special Needs Students Missing Out

The survey revealed that around 16 percent of students were on schools’ special needs registers, but nearly 90 percent of schools’ special needs coordinators did not believe there was adequate support for students and their learning... More>>

ALSO:

Interim Report: Waitangi Tribunal On Ture Whenua Legislation

Labour on Proposed changes to Maori land rules: “To have Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson dismiss findings as ‘bizarre’ is totally disingenuous and disrespectful. What’s bizarre is Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell stubbornly pushing through this Bill before the Waitangi Tribunal has even completed its report..." More>>

ALSO:

Spy Update: Appointment Of GCSB Acting Director

GCSB Chief Legal Advisor Lisa Fong will become the Acting Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) from 15 February 2016, Minister Responsible for the GCSB Christopher Finlayson announced today. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news