Friday, April 01, 2011

Standing up for Michael Laws

The Herald reports that Michael Laws may be chucked off the Whanganui District Council for failing to attend committee meetings. The reason?

At yesterday's community and environment committee meeting, Mr Laws gave his apology for all committee meetings, saying the start time of 2pm was "impossible".


Mr Laws said he would not attend committee meetings "for the immediate future" due to child-minding responsibilities.

This actually seems to be a pretty good reason for non-attendance. And what's outrageous is not that Laws is failing to show up, but that the Council has deliberately arranged things so that he can't. As Laws notes, these meetings were previously held later in the day, "to ensure that all persons, regardless of employment or family circumstances, could stand for the district council". Now the Council is basically hanging out a sign saying "parents need not apply".

I hate Laws as much as the next guy, but the Council's position is discriminatory and wrong. They're a public body, with a duty to be inclusive and a legal obligation not to discriminate on the basis of family status. And that applies even to arrogant blowhards like Laws. If the Council's standing orders result in an elected representative being unseated because they refuse to accommodate his duties as a parent, then our democracy will be the loser.