CCS Disability Action welcomes partial victory
CCS Disability Action welcomes partial victory for people with access needs
National community organisation CCS Disability Action has welcomed a turnaround to the Earthquake Strengthening Bill; one which will benefit tens of thousands of disabled Kiwis.
The Local Government and Environment Select Committee considering the Earthquake Strengthening Bill has significantly altered the proposed access exemption; with building owners now having to prove that access work is “unduly onerous”. This is a change from the original proposal, which had a much lower threshold for building owners to qualify for an access exemption.
The original proposal raised concerns among the disability community, in particular, as it would have limited everyday access to buildings for disabled New Zealanders. CCS Disability Action Chief Executive, David Matthews, said that while removing the exemption would have been better, raising the criteria was a positive change over the original proposed exemption.
“The original access exemption had a much lower threshold and would have created a large legal loophole allowing buildings owners to avoid access requirements. The revised access exemption has a higher threshold. Building owners carrying out earthquake strengthening who want an access exemption are now required to show that the access requirements are unduly onerous. This is not a perfect solution, but it is a vast improvement.”
The Committee made it clear it had heard the concerns of communities about the access exemption. A large number of individuals and organisations had expressed their concerns to the Committee and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Mr Matthews emphasised that collective advocacy had helped change the Committee’s mind.
“This turnaround is the result of significant collective advocacy by the access and disability communities. It is also about the members of the Select Committee being able to look beyond cost to see the value of including people in society. I commend the Committee for changing the proposed law to better balance the needs of people with access needs and building owners. They may not have gone as far as I would have liked, but I acknowledge the positive change they have made.”
Mr Matthews hoped this change would encourage people to engage with select committee processes.