Act's David Seymour wants 'hard-left' Human Rights Commission to be abolished

Author
Amelia Wade, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Oct 2020, 3:11PM
Act leader David Seymour wants the Human Rights Commission abolished. Photo / Michael Craig
Act leader David Seymour wants the Human Rights Commission abolished. Photo / Michael Craig

Act's David Seymour wants 'hard-left' Human Rights Commission to be abolished

Author
Amelia Wade, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Oct 2020, 3:11PM

Act leader David Seymour wants the Human Rights Commission abolished because of its "left-wing manifesto".

"The Commission is a hard-left organisation masquerading as a government department," Seymour said.

The Human Rights Commission today called for the new government to honour human rights and laid out 39 issues it wants politicians to adopt.

Included are creating a written constitution that honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi, makes the minimum wage the living wage, creates more employment opportunities for disabled people, builds decent and affordable homes and a formulates national action plan against racism.

It also wants a national strategy to deal with family violence, an end pay discrimination, for police to collect hate crime data and to make the health and disability system work for all disabled people.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said successive governments had made these promises over many years and it was time for the new government to deliver them.

"Human rights place responsibilities on governments. They also place responsibilities on individuals to embrace diversity, support vibrant communities and not be racist or homophobic."

Seymour said the manifesto showed the commission was "no longer interested in helping real people with actual human rights issues, but simply advancing a left-wing agenda".

"The commission has become irrelevant, and even dangerous, when it cannot defend our most basic human right.

"The commission has become a highly politicised, left-wing organisation, and when it comes to actually helping people with human rights, it doesn't help at all.

"Act sees no purpose for it and would abolish it completely," said Seymour.

The Human Rights Commission's 39 human rights issues were collected from all four commissioners and are:

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt

  • Everyone should have a warm, dry, safe, decent home
    • Look after the environment as kaitiaki (guardian) for our children and grandchildren
    • We not only have rights, we also have responsibilities to our communities
    • Rainbow communities can express who they are and be respected and safe
    • A community-based health system (physical and mental health) for everyone
    • Public officials must respect the human rights promises governments have made to
    all of us
    • The welfare system should ensure a secure and dignified life for everyone
    • Honour and implement the growing partnership between kāwanatanga (Crown) and
    rangatiratanga (hapü and iwi)
    • Establish a Human Rights Commissioner for Older People
    • Getting the balance right between freedom of speech and the right to be safe
    • Treat people who are deprived of their liberty with respect
    • A written Constitution that honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero MNZM

  • Respect for disabled people by upholding our dignity and celebrating our
    contributions
    • Give disabled young people a fair go in our education system
    • Make houses, transport and public places accessible so everyone can use them
    • Services respect and work in partnership with tāngata whaikaha (Māori disabled
    people)
    • More and better employment opportunities for disabled people
    • Better services for those experiencing violence and abuse
    • Make the health system work for all disabled people
    • Public information provided in ways, such as te reo Māori, NZ Sign Language, and
    braille, so that everyone can understand
    • Collect better information about disabled people so services can be better designed
    for them

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo

  • Ensure government contracts have job targets for Māori, women, disabled people,
    55+, vulnerable youth, Pacific Peoples and ethnic minorities
    • End pay discrimination
    • Free early childhood education
    • Establish fair employment contracts for all
    • Make the minimum wage a living wage
    • Establish a safe and trusted process to deal with sexual harassment and bullying
    • Eliminate modern slavery and exploitation in the workplace

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon

  • A National Action Plan Against Racism
    • Teach Te Tiriti o Waitangi, local histories and human rights in schools
    • Police to collect hate crime data
    • Make government systems work for Māori e.g. health, justice, education, Oranga
    Tamariki, welfare and housing
    • A public anniversary to commemorate the New Zealand Wars
    • Support Māori to take part in the political process
    • Equal rules for creating general wards and Māori wards
    • Establish a national action plan for the implementation of the UN Declaration on
    the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    • Appoint an Indigenous Rights Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission
    • A government Ministry for ethnic communities
    • Develop a national strategy to deal with family violence

The Human Rights Commission's call was welcomed by the Public Service Association, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Disabled Persons Assembly and Community Housing Aotearoa.