Monday, April 22, 2013

Gutting the watchdog

The Human Rights Commission is a vital watchdog in our society, both mediating discrimination complaints and advocating both publicly and politically for human rights. So naturally, National is cutting their funding:

More than 10 jobs will be axed at the Human Rights Commission under a proposed shake-up which could see its head office moved from Auckland to Wellington.

The commission launched an organisational review after the Government signalled it would receive no extra baseline funding until 2020.


Staff were told Thursday that 10 full-time jobs would be cut, as well as a number of part-time and fixed-term positions.

PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said the scale of the proposal, which would reduce staff numbers by about 15 per cent, had taken staff by surprise.

"In an organisation of its size with only about 72 full-time staff, that's a pretty big hit and will have significant flow-on effects in terms of workload and efficiency."

Ten staff out of 72 is an enormous cut, and raises serious doubts over whether the HRC will be able to continue to fulfil its legal duties. National clearly doesn't care about that - after all, the HRC keeps telling them that their policies are contrary to both New Zealand law and our international human rights obligations. But we should. If we want a society that respects and protects human rights, we need an effective HRC to police and lobby for them. because bigots won't police themselves, and neither will politicians.