5 Sep 2018

Labour MPs spend a day at Parliament in wheelchairs

5:07 pm on 5 September 2018

Two Labour Cabinet ministers are spending the day at Parliament in wheelchairs today.

Disabilities Minister Carmel Sepuloni and ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

Disabilities Minister Carmel Sepuloni and ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo: RNZ/Jo Moir.

ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway and Disabilities Minister Carmel Sepuloni said they were doing so to gain some insight into what New Zealander's with a spinal cord injury faced on a day-to-day basis.

Mr Lees-Galloway said the experience had been a real eye-opener for him, particularly as his job was hectic and required him to get around Parliament quickly.

"You do have to think a lot more about how you are going to get there, getting in and out of lifts, even getting your swipe card out in time - I've gone for a couple of unexpected trips in the lift because I haven't got there fast enough.

"Getting through doors is a little bit tricky - frankly the doors in this place are not wide enough."

Ms Sepuloni said she was initially reluctant to spend the day in a wheelchair.

"I don't want to undermine real wheelchair users' experiences, but at the same accessibility is an issue that is brought to me as Disability Minister all the time and I thought this was going to be an opportunity to experience first-hand what so many New Zealanders are faced with daily."

Mr Lees-Galloway agreed saying one day in a wheelchair did not represent the experience of wheelchair users.

"But it is helpful for politicians to experience what other people experience; we are making policy that affects all kinds of New Zealanders."