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Minister’s exclusion discriminates against disabilities

Disabilities Issues Spokesperson
15 June 2011

Minister’s exclusion discriminates against disabilities sector

The Government’s decision not to include Disabilities Minister Tariana Turia on its own Ministerial working group examining recommendations from the Welfare Working Group is a joke, says Labour’s spokesperson for Disabilities Issues Carmel Sepuloni

“It effectively discriminates against all people with, or advocating for, disability issues,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“I expressed my concern at this exemption today in the Social Services select committee. 145,000 of the 330,000 people receiving benefits are Invalid or Sickness beneficiaries. These people must be effectively represented.

“Tariana Turia agrees with me herself but it seems the Māori Party coalition agreement is not strong enough to support her case,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“The Government’s exclusion shows a complete disregard for the impact that these changes will have on people with disabilities. Minister Turia must push to be included in this ministerial group.

“While recognising that discrimination exists at large in the disability sector the Minister has also confirmed my assertion that the problem is much wider than this. National’s framing of welfare reform not only discriminates against beneficiaries but also incites further discrimination across society against people with disabilities.

“The Minister stated very clearly that there is a level of discrimination for people with disabilities coming from the Government and that she expects the sector will be speaking out about it.

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“While a change in emphasis around what people with disabilities can do is welcome, National has to realise that their narrow focus on the jobseeker ignores wider, systemic issues of discrimination. It also fails to recognise the challenging job market and opportunities for people with disabilities to take up employment.

“Ironically, National has put four million dollars into an initiative to change attitudes towards people with disabilities, yet seems unable to make changes itself,” Carmel Sepuloni said.


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