22 Jul 2015

Call for inquiry into family caregiver pay

1:45 pm on 22 July 2015

The Disability Rights Commissioner has called for a select committee inquiry into a law governing payments to family carers.

Paul Gibson spoke to Parliament's Health Committee, which is considering a petition to repeal the Public Health and Disability Amendment Act.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson - Human Rights Commission www.hrc.co.nz

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson Photo: Human Rights Commission

The act was passed under urgency in 2013, and restricts payments to people for the care they provide disabled relatives - and rules out future legal action.

Mr Gibson told MPs on Wednesday the bill should be reviewed, because it denied disabled people and their families some of their fundamental rights.

He said that included their basic right to justice and the option to have the best support for their individual circumstances.

Mr Gibson said an inquiry could undo some of the harm of the law.

"There could be an inquiry, building on previous work, and looking to resolve, to undo some of the harm of the bill, some of the act. And we'd be happy to help with developing terms of reference for such an inquiry."

Mr Gibson said when the act was passed under urgency it prevented any opportunity for public feedback or input.

"Government support parties didn't have the opportunity to debate, disagree or negotiate. Disabled people felt they had been ridden roughshod over it. That they were devalued through the process. Family members as well."

He told the committee the law had had a chilling effect.

"Disabled people and their families are not wanting to take complaints anywhere to the Human Rights Commission," Mr Gibson said.

"They are not believing there is a justice process available that would eventually resolve their complaints, with something fair coming out of it."

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