The Alliance Party today condemned Speaker Lockwood Smith and Parliamentary Services for denying $30,000 in funding to Green MP Mojo Mathers for electronic note taking.
“This is a disgrace. Lockwood Smith was probably thinking that the public would see this as an excessive expense demand by an MP and another act of political correctness gone mad. I think he has underestimated the supportive response for Ms Mathers given that New Zealanders are more fair minded than that on disability issues,” says Alliance Disability Issues spokesperson Chris Ford.
The Alliance Disability Issues spokesperson expressed full solidarity and support to his Green counterpart in her struggle to get support funding. This funding should be seen from an inclusive perspective as electronic note taking would enable her to perform her duties as an MP. Otherwise, if Parliamentary Services continues to deny her funding, it will create more barriers to her participation in House of Representatives debates.
“Every MP has the right to speak in debates and to make informed contributions. If Ms Mathers can’t follow debates adequately, then she will not be able to rebut or support contributions made by her colleagues. This will put her at a huge disadvantage, one that no other current MP faces,” said Mr Ford.
Mr Ford is asking that Parliamentary Services reconsiders its position. Otherwise, it could potentially find itself in breach of the Human Rights Act and this country’s obligations to support employment rights for disabled people in all workplaces. “This would mean that Parliament would ironically be in breach of laws it has passed or ratified. Hypocrisy would then reign supreme.”
Mr Ford added another note too to his support of Ms Mathers.
“I find it ironic that even one of New Zealand’s most conservative politicians, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, has today endorsed Mojo’s fight, albeit, from a charitable model rather than a social model perspective. Clearly this decision has riled politicians, political activists, disabled people and indeed all those who desire equitable treatment for disadvantaged groups across the political spectrum. I wish Mojo well in her fight and plan to add my voice by emailing Lockwood Smith to say fund the technology, Mr Speaker!”