Monday, May 14, 2012

A victory for human rights

The Court of Appeal has ruled in the case of Ministry of Health v Atkinson [PDF], and upheld the Human Rights Review Tribunal's ruling that the government's policy of refusing to pay disability support to parents of disabled children unjustifiably discriminates on the basis of family status. In doing so, the court dismissed the government's attempts to weasel around the meaning of discrimination, and to pretend that people have a lifelong duty to care for adult, disabled children unassisted (it may be praiseworthy, but its very much above and beyond what should be expected). The government has been pretty naked that it imposed this policy to save money by dumping care costs onto parents, and they've been deservedly squicked for it.

The question now is whether the government will admit defeat, or take this all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to undermine New Zealand human rights law. Sadly, my money is on the latter. The crown's case has always relied on using superior resources and patience to bury the opposition. And dragging it out even longer fits that strategy perfectly.