Free transport for some disabled?

The Green Party is promising free public transport for some disabled people.

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Julie Anne Genter – promising free public transport for some disabled people.

It’s part of a Green Card policy announced this week in support of the party’s goal to get New Zealanders out of cars and into public transport.

Anyone on the Supported Living Payment will be eligible for the free travel. People under the age of 19 will also be able to travel for free, and students will be entitled to free travel in off-peak hours.

The party’s transport spokesperson, Julie Anne Genter, says that the average weekly transport cost for families has risen $40 over the past four years, and now takes up 15 per cent of the average household budget.

The Green Card will cost about $80 million a year and will be funded from the Government’s Land Transport Fund.

Genter says the cost is equal to the cost of building just one kilometre of new motorway.

New Zealand’s general election will be held on September 23.



Discounts could be on the cards for New Zealand’s disabled

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The SuperGold Card gets discounts for pensioners.

Disabled people would get a SuperGold Card-type discount card under a New Zealand First Government, the party’s leader says.

Winston Peters secured the SuperGold Card for pensioners as part of New Zealand First’s

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Winston Peters – says he admires the hard work of disabled people and wants to help.

confidence and supply agreement supporting the 2005 Labour Government. The card gives people on National Superannuation access to subsidies and discounts on things ranging from transport to household goods.

Now he says he wants to extend the service to 100,000 disabled New Zealanders. He told TVNZ’s Q&A programme today that he has long admired the way in which people with disabilities try to live worthwhile lives despite getting little Government support, and cited the example of a man who had no use of his legs but ran New Zealand’s largest gate-making company.

Peters could well be in a position to deliver on his promise; on current polling, New Zealand First could well hold the balance of power after the September 23 general election.



Cyclist to champion disability rights

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Paula Tesoriero

World record-breaking Paralympian cyclist Paula Tesoriero is to be New Zealand’s new Disability Rights Commissioner.

Tesoriero, who won gold and broke the women’s 500 metre record at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, is also a lawyer.

She is currently a member of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation and a member of the Artificial Limb Board.

Paula Tesoriero receives the Order of Merit

The Disability Rights Commissioner is a special officer of the Human Rights Commission, created in 2011.

Tesoriero will take over from the current commissioner, Paul Gibson, at the end of July.

She is currently works for the Statistics Department, and has been the general manager of the Higher Courts with the Ministry of Justice, as well as holding a range of other roles.



Disabilities minister lands in hot water

Nicky Wagner

NEW ZEALAND Disabilities Minister Nicky Wagner is being compared to Britain’s Theresa May after tweeting that she’d rather be out sailing than in meetings about disabilities.

UK Prime Minister May’s apparent lack of empathy for the victims of the Grenfell Tower inferno this week has earned her strong criticism that she’s out of touch with the people.

And now New Zealand’s disabilities minister is being accused of a similar lack of empathy, after tweeting on Wednesday: “Busy with Disability meetings in Auckland- rather be out on the harbour!”


While Wagner’s faux-pas is not on the scale of May’s failure to meet with the survivors of the horrific fire, it does feed the growing perception of a political class so isolated from the everyday problems of many ordinary people that it thinks it’s okay to make comments like that.

The parallel between Wagner and May has not gone unnoticed:

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People who have seen Wagner’s tweet are shocked.

“I suggest you step down then,” tweeted @amykspeaks this morning. “Our communities deserve someone who wants to be there and make a difference.”

And @MariaSherwood said:Got a solution for your boredom with the disability portfolio, there’s an election in September, stand down, More time on water.”

Someone who knew a person at one of Wagner’s meetings that day was similarly horrified.

“How dare you be so flippant,” @nzrosie@nzrosie said. “I know one of those disabled people you were meeting with, and she had been looking forward to it four two weeks.”

While most people can understand the sentiment (we would all rather be out sailing on the harbour than at work), Wagner’s comment shows a huge disregard not only for her job as a minister of the Crown, but also for the nature of her portfolio.

Most people with disabilities have to deal every day with the fact that they can’t do the things they want to do. Not bunking off of work; to be able to go to work every day  – even to attend meetings when the harbour is sparkling outside the window – is a dream of many disabled people. With her comment, Wagner shows that she doesn’t fundamentally grasp the challenges facing the people she is mandated to help.

It’s a point not lost on @FionaMcKenzie9, who said: “I hear you – I hate it when our daughter’s disability gets in the way of our sailing. And biking. And overseas travel. Ugh.”


Home is cold and damp for many of our disabled, study shows

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IF YOU’RE disabled, you’re more likely to live in a house that’s cold and damp, new research shows.

And if you’re Maori, Pacific or Asian and disabled, the chances of you living in substandard housing are even higher.

Research published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal uses the New Zealand Government’s 2013 Disability census to examine the housing situation of people with disabilities.

It finds that 16 per cent of the able-bodied population live in houses that are difficult to keep warm, compared to 25 per cent of the disabled population.

The situation is worse for disabled Maori, Pasefika and Asian New Zealanders, with 36 per cent, 37 per cent and 33 per cent respectively living in inadequate housing, compared to 22 per cent of disabled Europeans.

The researchers, Jacqueline McIntosh and Adele Leah from Victoria University in Wellington, say the study has implications for the way in which housing is provided for the country’s ageing population.

“The population is ageing and the incidence of persons with a disability in New Zealand is increasing,” they say in the report.

“This study indicates that large numbers of the disabled population in New Zealand are living in the most deprived areas, in rental housing that is damp and difficult to keep warm. It would appear that the poorest and most vulnerable are living in the worst conditions.”

They say that research into the impact of inadequate housing on health is needed urgently.

The study defines disability as an impairment which has a long-term (six months or longer) limiting effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

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