Ralston’s latest column – Ryall’s disabled thinking – covers Tony Ryall’s decision to ignore a select committee recommendation that National set up a Disabilities Commission, asking:
Why did he [Ryall] ignore the fact that National’s own MPs were on the select committee that agreed a commission was necessary?
Why did he think the mountain of submissions to the Social Services Select Committee that supported the idea of such an agency were worthless?
Why propose, instead, a ministerial coordination committee be set up to ensure the various agencies of state that juggle care for disabled people work better together when there is no evidence a committee like this can achieve the advances that a Disabilities Commission could?
How much of the cash he purports to be saving will be actually wasted by bureaucrats sitting around discussing what should be done, instead of actually doing it?
How often will this ineffectual ‘ministerial coordination committee’ meet before it is allowed to quietly lapse and, once again, the problems faced by New Zealanders with disabilities are swept under the carpet?
Will the government now scrap the multimillion-dollar Families Commission that was set up and is still maintained purely as a sop to United Future and Peter Dunne?
Why did the government recently ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities if it has no intention of seeking to improve the lot of this country’s disabled?
For someone who was a shameless publicity seeker in Opposition, now he’s a minister, Ryall is strangely silent.
I guess disabled folk can take comfort from the fact that while their position will not improve thanks to government inaction, at least Tony is not getting a pay increase this year.
Ryall’s dilemma illustrates what’s going to become an increasing problem for National: a tension between simultaneously pandering to their core constituency whilst maintaining their spin on ‘pragmatism and ambition’. I don’t think it’ll be easy. What’s ambitious about even more kids with diabetes, a warmer planet, damper houses, and as in this case, sectors without the advocacy they deserve?