Access Matters has released a statement from the Press Secretary of the Office of the Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, announcing:

"I recognise the [Accessibility for New Zealanders] Bill does not necessarily reflect what many disabled people asked for, but I believe it represents a positive step forward that will make a real difference for disabled people and their whānau.

"The Accessibility Bill has always been intended as enabling legislation. This means the legislation will not immediately solve the broad range of accessibility issues experienced by disabled New Zealanders, but it does establish ongoing mechanisms to respond over time to accessibility barriers.

"It would also increase public accountability on accessibility through the establishment of an Accessibility Committee. The Committee will be able to make recommendations to Government to improve accessibility, drawing on a range of options such as increased training and education, increased funding and information provision, and the development of standards and regulations.

"I see the Bill as an opportunity to cement a commitment to improve accessibility and ensure disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori are involved in and guiding key advice on accessibility at the highest level.

"However, given the level of opposition to the Bill in its current form, I am seeking advice on what the next steps could be. Following Select Committee, responsibility for the Bill has [been] transferred from the Ministry of Social Development to Whaikaha.

"I don’t intend to progress the Bill before the upcoming election."

What does this mean?

Our community has been loud. This is a victory for all those who wrote submissions, signed petitions, lobbied MPs, and shared their stories. Now the Minister has acknowledged the Bill hasn’t given us what we asked for and pressed pause.

DPA believe the design of the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill is structurally flawed. It needs to go back to the drawing board.

Our advice to the Minister on the next steps is that the Bill needs to be redrafted via a genuine co-design and co-production process with disabled people, disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and the wider disabled community, as recommended by the United Nations.

Just because the Minister has pressed pause, doesn’t mean we will. Let’s keep the Accessibility Bill and the needs of disabled people front of mind this election.

DPA asks you to make this an election issue. Raise it at meetings, ask candidates where they stand on it, have your voice heard.

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