14 Feb 2012

Argument over funding for deaf MP

10:21 pm on 14 February 2012

An argument has developed between the Parliamentary Service and the Green Party over funding for New Zealand's first profoundly deaf MP.

Green MP Mojo Mathers says Parliamentary Service should pay for an electronic note taking service for her when the House is sitting.

Ms Mathers says Parliamentary Service wants the cost of the note taking to come out of her MPs support funding, which would usually pay for her constituency work.


She says it is a collective responsibility for Parliament to provide services for MPs with disabilities and it should come out of the general budget.

Ms Mathers says she needs the note taking service to participate fully and understand what is being said in Parliament and the annual cost is estimated to be $20,000 to $30,000.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the cost of services for Mojo Mathers should come out of the general budget for Parliament, and not the party's funding.

Ms Turei says the cost of services for disabled MPs should be spread across the whole of Parliament.

Not true, says Speaker

The Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith, says he's very concerned about what he says are untrue allegations from Ms Mathers, about not receiving satisfactory support from Parliamentary Service.

Dr Smith says every effort is being made to make sure Ms Mathers has the best possible technical support in the House.

He says the cost of the technology needed to support Ms Mathers will come out of the budgets of the Parliamentary Service and the Clerk's office.

But he says funding for staffing for MPs must come out of the support allocation for each party.

Dr Smith says he's deeply concerned by the Greens' account of a meeting he had with two of their MPs on Tuesday morning, given the work that has gone into trying to provide Ms Mathers with the support she needs.