Bill to establish full-time Disability Rights Commissioner introduced

Thursday 13 October 2011, 4:17PM
By Simon Power

A bill to establish a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner who will promote and protect the rights of disabled people was introduced to Parliament today by Justice Minister Simon Power.

“Having a dedicated Disability Rights Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission reinforces this Government’s commitment to promoting and monitoring mechanisms that will really make a difference to the lives of disabled people,” Mr Power said.

The Human Rights Amendment Bill also makes changes to the composition, governance arrangements, and functions and powers of the commission, to strengthen its performance and enable it to better respond to emerging human rights issues.

“Strengthening the commission will enhance New Zealand’s ability to comply with its international human rights obligations, as well as benefiting the implementation of domestic human rights legislation.

Mr Power said the bill:

  • Replaces the current composition of full-time and part-time commissioners with full-time commissioners only.
  • Changes the current number of three full-time and four part-time commissioners to no less than four, and no more than five, full-time commissioners (including the Chief Commissioner).
  • Provides that there must be a commissioner, other than the Chief Commissioner, appointed to lead the work in the following priority areas:

- Race relations, equal employment opportunities, and disability rights.

- Other specialised priority areas of human rights (designated by the Chief Commissioner, after consultation with the Minister of Justice and the commission).

  • Revises the functions of the commission to better reflect its current responsibilities.
  • Mr Power thanked the Minster for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia, for her advocacy for the establishment of a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner.

The bill can be found here.