The Human Rights Commission has raised concerns over a proposed law change that may breach New Zealand’s international and human rights obligations. Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson appeared before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee Select Committee today.
“In its current form the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings)Amendment Bill enables buildings to be exempted from current requirements to upgrade disability access and fire access when undergoing earthquake strengthening,” said Mr Gibson.
“Recently Government has made great progress in implementing the rights of disabled people. Many initiatives within the Disability Action Plan and moves to support New Zealand Sign Language each announced last week, are to be celebrated. However the proposed legislation reinforces the perception that the rights and needs of disabled and older people, and their families, are a low priority for and not well understood by Government. If passed this amendment represents a backward step for New Zealand’s high human rights record.”
“Assumptions about the cost of making buildings accessible are generalised and overstated: while the benefits of accessibility, including reduced health and safety risks are understated,” said Mr Gibson.
“Accessibility will be faced by all of us at some stage in our lives. A more accessible and safer built environment will benefit us all. With our aging population failing to upgrade disability access represents a missed opportunity to future proof our buildings.”
Download the Commission’s full submission here: .