“You’re Saying A Blind Person Can’t Use The Uber App” – Nationals’ disaster at DPA Meeting

National have come away from an important meeting with members of the disability community having failed to convince in the areas of education and housing.

The DPA (Disabled Persons Assembly) held their political forum in Wellington tonight – but some notable names from Parliament were missing.

Nicky Wagner, the Minister for Disability Issues, wasn’t able to attend the event. Her big rival representing Labour, Poto Williams, also wasn’t present.

In Wagner’s place was Alastair Scott – MP for the Wairarapa electorate. But as it turns out, Wagner may now regret such a decision after Scott’s comments shocked people in the audience and watching online.

As expected, education and housing were the two big talking points at the forum.

Viewers who tuned in to the Facebook livestream aired their frustration, particularly toward the National Party, for a lack of commitment and general understanding of the issues in both key areas.

At one point, the DPA suggested that up to 25% of New Zealand housing should be accessible – a suggestion quickly shut down by National.

Concerns were also raised at the meeting about how people with visual impairments access public transport. Members of the audience asked about taxi’s having braille to make it easier for access.

Alastair Scott, the MP representing National, argued that technology on mobile devices was a suitable replacement for braille.

“Your saying a blind person can’t use the Uber app? I’m not to sure about that, I think they can, but I’ll have to look into that.”

Scott was asked about the difficulties disabled people face accessing Supported Living Payments, organisations like Workbridge, and receiving adequate supports to life an ordinary life. Concerns were also raised about the regulation of benefits, including the Supported Living Payment.

The DPA put forward the scenario of a disabled person who wishes to move into the same house as their partner. Under the current system, if a disabled person lives with a working partner, or a partner also on the benefit, both their weekly payments are significantly impacted.

National showed little, if any empathy, to the situation that many disabled people face.

“Well, when you fall in love and get into a relationship, there are consequences.”

Stats show a decline in people with disabilities accessing benefits, resulting in poverty, but National had a different answer to the questions.

“Those with significant disabilities will come with a higher cost, and that results in the benefits you are receiving.”

New Zealand’s General Election is little over two months away.

Medicinal Cannabis one step closer to being on the NZ market

The Ministry of Health now has the ability to provide medicinal cannabis for people with terminal or life threatening illness; but the process may not be any easier than it previously was.

Until now, the final decision over medicinal cannabis usage has rested with the Minister. Medical specialists will now be able to apply to the Ministry of Health on behalf of their patients.

But there is no confirmation that the process will be any less regulated than it has been before, even without the Minister being involved. Dunne’s announcement doesn’t clarify if medicinal cannabis will be available to everyone, nor does it speculate the price of the medicinal products.

Clearly, Dunne’s announcement is a direct answer to the promises that the Labour Party made earlier in the week. During a Facebook Live interview, Labour leader Andrew Little said that medicinal cannabis would be made legal “pretty quickly” in New Zealand if his party was elected this year.

In December last year, the Green Party said that it would legalise all cannabis for personal use. Today, the Green Party labelled Dunne’s announcement as “a step in the right direction”, while an Otago University professor warned the Ministry of Health to take a cautious approach.

Some argue that medicinal cannabis’ ability to relief pain isn’t convincing enough for a roll out, calling it an “emerging form of medicine”. For people with terminal illness, the benefits of medicinal cannabis are many, but there is a different discussion to be had for those who don’t fall under that category.

 

Ngapuhi elder apologises as Committee set to get the axe

As many in New Zealand continue to back Bill English, an elder at Ngapuhi has apologised for comments where he called the Prime Minister “a spoiled child”.

Kingi Taurua says he is ashamed of how his iwi have treated Bill English, and he has vowed to take it all back. The Ngapuhi elder now has egg on his face, but the damage is done. English is still in Europe on PM duties,

Letters that leaked yesterday reveal that English was told that the only way he could speak at Waitangi was if a Maori Representative did so on his behalf.  In a tent outside the Marae, political discussions would’ve been able to take place, and English was only allowed to speak freely there.

What was laughingly referred to as protocol, has now led to an apology from Taurua. The committee at Ngapuhi are likely to be stripped of their roles as many New Zealanders support English, and Taurua even went as far as saying that some supporters are “against the National Party”.

No other political party has been told they can’t speak at the powhiri, but did the media keep their knowledge of the letters between the two parties hidden? Some argue that Taurua wouldn’t have made such comments if was aware of the letters, but all along, the committee itself also knew of the discussions in the letters.

Ngapuhi will meet on Thursday and go into damage control.

Bill English vs Waitangi vs Truth

This blog is a response to the one I wrote yesterday surrounding Waitangi Day and the New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English.

It is my view, as I said yesterday, that English is right in his decision to turn his back on the celebrations. Like John Key did before him, English won’t put himself into a situation of protest, because Waitangi Day should be about celebrating New Zealand, and not a political forum.

That’s my personal belief, the day is about New Zealand and our way of life. The problem is, too many political interests and media discussion has influenced that very way of life, and some believe all respect has been lost along the way.

Not once did English say he would use his speaking rights to try and gain votes, or the respect of the Maori at Waitangi. That would imply that the Government doesn’t have the respect of Maori. English is the Prime Minister of New Zealand and deserved more respect than what he got in the letter Waitangi wrote in response to his request.

The issues surrounding Waitangi Day vary, and depending on the group of people you talk with, the sides are very different. What I am wrote about yesterday is Bill English, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, being told he cannot speak at the celebrations.

English himself said that to the media, that he had been refused speaking rights. My article was in reaction to that, and I shared my view on the Committee at Waitangi and the decision they made.

Subsequent stories have hit the news today that suggest it was English who didn’t want to speak at Waitangi, a direct contradiction to what was reported and said yesterday. We now find ourselves in a situation where the truth isn’t actually a certainty.

What is clear is that Waitangi Day is an issue for all of New Zealand, not just Maori.

I agree, we all need more education and balanced reporting on Waitangi. If both sides won’t work together, and the protests occur, like they are planned to, how is that supposed to happen? It is a no win situation and one that, clearly, English doesn’t want to be a part of.

Stupid Waitangi Marae Committee forced PM into decision

Another build up to Waitangi Day has led to another example of stupidity all round.

Bill English, the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, has decided to distance himself from the Waitangi Day celebrations after he was told he wouldn’t be able to speak at the treaty grounds. Before we go any further, I want you to keep in mind what I said in the latter part of that sentence.

When questioned by the media today, English defended his decision, saying that New Zealanders “cringe” at the prospect of protests. English went a step further and said he didn’t think it was appropriate that the Prime Minister, himself, wasn’t allowed to speak at such an occasion.

The Waitangi Day celebrations have always been volatile affairs for the Government. Anyone who says that the same protests won’t occur in 2017 are kidding themselves.

Can we really deny what English says? The Prime Minister was right on the mark with his comments. Of course it isn’t appropriate, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to that conclusion.

We are talking about the Prime Minister of New Zealand here, and it’s time people came to terms with that. Waitangi is not the place for protest, at least that wasn’t what was intended. It has become that because of those who’ve come after history, those who feel entitled, and ultimately, those who have no respect for the traditions of a day that celebrates what New Zealand is.

That last point is key in this blog, the lack of respect and the timing is why you see the Prime Minister pulling out.

Like in 2016, the Prime Minister’s speaking rights were cut off. Nobody in their right mind could blame John Key for turning his back on it last year, and nor should they blame English. Let’s not forget that English specifically reached out to Waitangi officials to ask about the conditions of his attendance, to which English was told that the committee had decided her couldn’t speak on “their” Marae.

Apparently it’s their Marae, remember that. And people say that English is being disrespectful to the history of Waitangi Day?

Straight out of the oppositions’ playbook, Labour leader Andrew Little labelled the Prime Minister’s decision as a “black mark” on his leadership. This is entirely incorrect, and English not attending Waitangi will have absolutely zero impact on the 2017 General Election. The Leader of the Opposition doesn’t fully back his claims either, but the announcement today gave him an opportunity to criticise.

So as we head into Waitangi Day in 2017, it is clear that those certain people, so-called officials, are still very much on that hypocritical high horse. That is a big shame, for New Zealand.

Landlords save money by not improving access for disabled Kiwis

People with disabilities face the reality that their requirements for an accessible home are not going to convince too many landlords to make changes.

In the current housing crisis, landlords don’t need to invest in making their properties accessible because the demand by the general population is so high. A sad but true reality, the number of people without homes in New Zealand is on the rise, disabled or not.

The housing crisis is far reaching, but the issue for disabled people seeking accessible homes has gone on well before this moment in time. Continue reading Landlords save money by not improving access for disabled Kiwis

National Fast-Track “Gateway City” Rail Link

$4.2 billion will be invested into transport in and around Auckland over the next three years – but some say that the announcement should have come a long time ago.

Auckland’s city rail link will get a $2.5billion kickstart.

John Key says that the Government will work closely with Auckland City Council to bring forward a business plan and formalise Government funding for public transport in a bid to make Auckland the country’s most liveable city.

Construction of the city’s rail link will begin two years earlier than originally planned, starting in 2018.

The Labour Party have accused John Key of being slow to commit, saying a deal should have been signed with Auckland years ago. Labour also said that National’s lack of ambition has cost jobs and strangled businesses in Auckland, a city that Key claimed as “New Zealand’s gateway”.