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Green Party on Mojo Mathers disability support issue

8 March 2012

Green Party statement on Mojo Mathers disability support issue

The Green Party will keep pushing for a fair and permanent outcome on funding for MPs with disabilities after the Parliamentary Services Commission meeting failed to reach a conclusion on funding for electronic note taking for Green MP Mojo Mathers last night.

The Green Party is today releasing legal advice from Chapman Tripp that says funding can come from the Office of the Clerk’s budget, like Te Reo Māori translation services are.

“We want an outcome that recognises democratic participation in Parliament for people with disabilities is a right not a privilege,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“Individualising the cost of participation on disabled MPs or their parties sends the message that people with disabilities are a burden on Parliament.

“An outdated charity model that forces MPs with disabilities to go cap in hand to get additional funding just to do their job is unacceptable in a modern parliament.

“750,000 New Zealanders have a hearing impairment. Mojo may be the first deaf MP, but she won’t be the last.

“Our legal advice says there is nothing stopping the Speaker from funding the cost out of the Office of the Clerk as other services like Te Reo Māori translation are.

“The legal advice suggests that allocating the cost for note taking within the Office of the Clerk budget is a more appropriate solution.

“The $30,000 needed for electronic note taking equates to around 0.17 percent of the budget allocation for secretarial services.

“It is a drop in the bucket in terms of the budget allocation, but is incredibly important in terms of disability representation.

“If the Speaker requires the Standing Orders Committee to meet in order for funding to be authorised from the Office of the Clerk budget then he should call that meeting as soon as possible.

“Mojo has been an MP for three months now. We accept that there are issues to be worked through but believe unnecessary obstacles are being put in the way of reaching an enduring outcome,” said Mrs Turei.

Link to Chapman Tripp legal advice: http://www.greens.org.nz/misc-documents/chapman-tripp-legal-advice-funding-enable-deaf-mp-participate-parliament

ENDS

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