Thursday, September 27, 2018

Repealing National's constitutional outrage

Back in 2012, Peter Atkinson and Cliff Robinson won the right to be paid for caring for their disabled children, in the landmark Atkinson & Others v Ministry of Health. National's response was the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act (No 2), rammed through under urgency, which removed the right of people to challenge such unlawful discrimination in court. The act was an affront to the rule of law and a direct attck on all our rights. Now, as part of a law change to provide proper payment to family caregivers, Labour is repealing it:

The Government will repeal a disability law described as a "shame on society" and overhaul its policy on paying families who care for their disabled loved ones.

Health Minister David Clark and associate minister James Shaw announced the decision today, after a long campaign by families and human rights groups for fairer treatment.

Clark said Cabinet had agreed to consider changes to the way it pays families - a policy known as Funded Family Care - with options and timeframes for changes to be presented to ministers later this year.

Ideally, that would mean spouses and parents could be paid for looking after their disabled family members -currently they are not - and payments would be fairer and easier to access.

It also agreed to repeal Part 4A of the NZ Public Health and Disability Act, which underpins the policy, and also bans families taking discrimination cases about it to court.

Good. As constitutional expert Andrew Geddis notes in the article, the law was constitutionally outrageous and needed to go. Denying people access to the courts because they keep winning is the sort of thing that happens in tyrannies, and has no place in New Zealand.

But while we're on the subject of repealing constitutional outrages, how about that prisoner voting ban?