Thursday, May 30, 2024

First reading for Accessibility Bill

The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill has passed its first reading in Parliament, marking a significant milestone to improve the lives of disabled people.

“The Bill aims to address accessibility barriers that prevent disabled people, tāngata whaikaha and their whānau, and others with accessibility needs from living independently,” said Disability Issues Minister, Poto Williams.

It follows the establishment of the new Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled people and is a Bill which will enable disabled people to hold Government to account on accessibility issues, the Minister said.

A timeframe for public submissions will be set by the Select Committee in the coming weeks.

“This legislation means that accessibility will be at the forefront of future government decisions and policies,” said Ms Williams.

The Bill:

  • establishes an Accessibility Committee, led by disabled people and tāngata whaikaha and their whānau, to provide independent recommendations, to the Minister for Disability Issues on how to address accessibility barriers and grow accessibility practices in consultation with experts and impacted sectors.
  • strengthens Government accountability by creating strong, clear responsibilities for the Minister for Disability Issues, Chief Executive of Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, and Accessibility Committee.
  • Lifts the profile of accessibility issues across government agencies.

”While the Bill does not have a regulatory focus, I expect that it will lead to new or amended regulations as accessibility barriers become more of a focus, with the establishment of Whaikaha – the Ministry of Disabled People, the first of its kind in any comparable jurisdiction,” said Minister Williams.

She said the legislation will be reviewed every five years to ensure the accessibility framework is working as effectively as it can.

The Bill is expected to be passed next year and come into effect by July 2024.

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