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NRT: The nuclear option

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, February 15th, 2012 - 27 comments
Categories: human rights, Parliament - Tags: ,

Lockwood ‘small hands’ Smith is digging himself deeper into a hole that is going to destroy his legacy as Speaker over the Mojo Mathers’ right to participate in Parliamentary debate. The Minister for Disabilities, Tariana Turia, is missing in action (probably off granting more of your money to her mates). Key wants nothing to do with it. So, I/S at NoRightTurn has proposed the ‘nuclear option’.


So, what to do if Lockwood Smith continues to sit on his arse and refuse to allow an elected MP to perform their constitutional duties? This:

Clerk of the House of Representatives (Non-discrimination) Amendment Bill

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1. Title
This Act is the Clerk of the House of Representatives (Non-discrimination) Amendment Act 2012.

2. Commencement
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it received the Royal Assent.

3. Purpose
The purpose of this Act is to amend the Clerk of the House of Representatives Act to ensure that all Members of Parliament are fully enabled to carry out their constitutional duties.

4. Principal Act Amended
This Act amends the Clerk of the House of Representatives Act 1988.

5. Section 3 Amended
Section 3 is amended by inserting the following paragraph after paragraph (a):

“(aa) to ensure that all Members of Parliament are enabled to carry out their constitutional duties, regardless of any disability:”

Arguably the Clerk already has to do this, as it is a duty required by law (specifically the Human Rights Act) under section 3(b). But if Smith continues to deny this, then I think MPs should seek leave to introduce and pass this bill and make it very clear that it is the Clerk’s responsibility. Seeking leave to do so each and every time Smith takes the chair would be a good way of getting the message across.

27 comments on “NRT: The nuclear option ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    My understanding is that the Hansard is recorded now, but not within a sufficient time frame to give “real time” to Mathers.

    Why not just replace the whole Hansard recording process with the same real-time system being proposed for Mathers? This would provide instant availability of text to all MP’s, not just Mathers, and would avoid the duplication of costs.

    • felix 1.1

      That’s not a silly idea.

      It’s not uncommon to hear MPs – including Lockwood – complain about the acoustics and the sound system making it difficult to hear properly in house.

      Could help.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      I think that is what they are actually suggesting will happen: the real-time transcript created for Mojo would also be shown on parliament TV for deaf people throughout NZ to watch.

      • Right, but you could also make it available to other MPs too in case they missed hearing something, etc… Could be very useful. Also they could post it to the web real-time too, allowing people to follow the debate in low-bandwidth, or to quote or excerpt from the debate easily in written pieces if someone’s just made an interesting point. This needs to happen.

  2. insider 2

    SO if someone had a stroke and couldn’t speak properly, would that mean parliament paying for speech therapy so they could take part in debates? Will it have to supply spectacles for those whose vision isn;t so good? Being able to see properly is pretty important part of taking part in parliamentary business, and esuring people are ‘enabled’ is fairly all encompassing

    PS are the speaker and Parliament bound by the Human Rights Act? Aren’t they exempt from the OIA and some acts given MPs aren’t really ’employees’?

    • Matt 2.1

      Sorry, is there a contest for posting egregious and stupid nonsense?

      • felix 2.1.1

        If there is, I’d nominate Michael Laws who just asked why a deaf person should get extra funding when Margret Wilson didn’t despite having an artificial leg.

        Fer reelz.

    • felix 2.2

      If they’re democratically elected to represent the people of NZ they must be enabled to perform that function. Otherwise you’d be saying the voters made a mistake and elected the wrong person, and I’m sure you wouldn’t mean to imply that.

      On the matter of specs, you have raised an important issue worthy of serious consideration. I urge you to lobby your MP to publicly petition the speaker for a spectacle allowance.

      And do let me know how that plays at the next election, won’t you?

      • toad 2.2.1

        There are plenty over in the sewer who are saying exactly that, Felix.

      • pdubyahnz 2.2.2

        “If they’re democratically elected to represent the people of NZ ” Well they arn’t really in the strictest sense are they, they are there proportionally representing voters. Not one Green MP is an elected MP in the way that lets say, Elected, members are.

        Overlooking also that they have $5.6 million of taxpayer funding already

        Overlooking that they knew about wanting an extremely expensive person to touch type in real time since the election

        Apart from that bang on.

        • felix

          “Well they arn’t really in the strictest sense are they, they are there proportionally representing voters.”

          They represent the people who voted for them, yes. Just like like everyone else in parliament does.

          ” Not one Green MP is an elected MP in the way that lets say, Elected, members are.”

          That makes no sense. They are elected members. How the fuck else would they be in parliament?

          You’d best lodge a complaint with the Speaker if you think there are people impersonating MPs in the house.


        • Not to dictionary-bash you, but the word “elect” applies perfectly to list MPs, especially as people can browse the party lists well ahead of election day. Here’s the relevant entry from dictionary.com:

          to choose or select by vote, as for an office: to elect a mayor.

          Are you saying that people do not choose or select their List MPs by vote? Come on. Just because you don't directly choose which member your vote goes to does not make them unelected. These aren't people that have been appointed to Parliament, referring to them as "elected" is the only thing that makes sense.

          Also, as Party List MPs represent voters from the whole country rather than a narrow constituency, it's really quite open to debate whether List MPs are in general better for the country than electorate MPs- especially when you consider some of the perverse winners we've had from electorates in the past and even in the present, from Chester Borrows to Winston Peters to Peter Dunne, we've had terrible MPs handed to us by electorates.

  3. Craig 3

    For once, I am strongly in favour of the nuclear option. Take the Speaker and Parliamentary Services to the Human Rights Commission over the issue of disability discrimination in this context. And why didn’t the Speaker examine how other jurisdictions had dealt with the issue? Ms Mathers isn’t the world’s first Deaf elected representative.

  4. David C 4

    What is it with the the various authors at the Standand and their fixation with Smiths hands?


    [lprent: Lockjaw (as I always knew him from my parents references to their MP when they lived in Rodney) made some very stupid statements some years ago when he was minister of immigration about why he considered some migrants to be better than others. It read like simple minded bigotry. I guess you missed it.. But the authors here tend to follow politics, so they remember those things.

    BTW: all I did was type “small hands” in quotes into the search looking for posts. There are only a few. Try it. It doesn’t require small hands… ]

  5. js 5

    Once upon a time Ruth Richardson asked for and got a breast feeding room just for her. She didn’t let other breast feeding mothers in parliament use it. She didn’t give her support to other women in parliament who were seeking to build a creche at the time. But she still got her room.

    Yes here is a situation whereby the technology will help everyone with hearning impairment access Parliament, and the Speaker demands that the individual MP pays for it.

    • David C 5.1

      Maybe if Hughes and mathers were not grandsatnding as tho this was a personal attack on Mathers they would have a better reception from the Speaker when he looks to take more funding from a general pool to hire extra staff to help all MPs rather than just Mathers.

  6. just saying 6

    Really hope IS gets the recognition he deserves in this year’s human rights awards (if he can do so without losing his pseudonymity).

  7. Rosemary 7

    Hopefully this will spark up a few more issues around the place, too. For example, it’d be good if someone fired in a complaint under the Human Rights Act about the failure to have NZ Sign interpreters and captions on Parliament TV.

    • Bafacu 7.1

      There is no requirement for Parliament TV to broadcast NZ Sign – just as they don’t “have” to transmit in any specific language of NZ. I have no problem with parliament having a “sign interpreter” in the House at all occasions but fail to see how the “robust” interjections could be managed.

      Anyway as I understand it from her comments Mather doesn’t sign – she lipreads, so a Sign Interpreter would be of no use to her!

      • Most people who sign also lipread, and it’s pretty clear Mojo signs too. 😉

      • Rosemary 7.1.2

        We really don’t know what’s required and what’s not which is the reason the whole issue should be looked at by the HRC, either as a complaint or the HRC reporting on its own volition. A complaint would be good though. Maybe Mojo Mathers can get someone from the Deaf community to put something together.

  8. Craig 8

    An excellent idea. It’d also be good to have the HRC investigate overall scope and access to NZSL interpreter funding overall. How much have government cutbacks affected the standard of service provision to the Deaf community?

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