Thursday, June 17, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalPraise For Human Rights And Te Tiriti Focus In 2021 Budget

Praise For Human Rights And Te Tiriti Focus In 2021 Budget


The Human Rights Commission has welcomed the
Government’s commitment to Māori health and housing
initiatives in the 2021 Budget, and for an increase in
benefits.

“Major investment in Māori housing, support
for Māori by Māori approaches, and an increase to main
benefits are steps towards the right to a decent standard of
living and the right to a decent home,” Chief Human Rights
Commissioner Paul Hunt said.

“It is particularly
encouraging to see investment in Tiriti partnerships and
enabling Iwi and Māori to exercise rangatiratanga and lead
solutions – for example, in the areas of Māori housing,
the Māori Health Authority, Iwi community panels in the
justice sector, and Kaupapa Māori justice and family
violence initiatives.”

Mr Hunt was responding to the
Government’s 2021 Budget announcement that it would put
$242.8 million in Māori health initiatives, including
setting up the new Māori Health Authority which was
announced in April.

A $380 million boost for Māori
housing is expected to go towards building 1000 new Māori
homes, restoring and repairing around 700 other homes owned
by Māori, and expanding iwi and Māori led projects and
support services.

An additional $350m has been
earmarked from the existing Housing Acceleration Fund for
infrastructure to enable Māori housing
development.

“The right to a decent home is grounded
in Te Tiriti. From my perspective this budget’s focus on Te
Tiriti builds a positive foundation. Most importantly the
opportunity for tangata whenua tino rangatiratanga is the
most effective pathway out of poverty and dependency,” he
said.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero
said: “Ensuring new homes were built to universal design
standards would help to improve the critical lack of
accessible homes for disabled people and tangata
whaikaha.”

The Government also announced that it
would increase main benefits by between $32 and $55 a week
per adult with the first increase of $20 a week per adult to
start from 1 July this year and the remainder from 1 April
next year.

“It’s encouraging to see the commitment
to wellbeing and dignity through the long-awaited benefit
increase, additional childcare subsidy, training allowances,
but clearly much more is needed,” said Equal Employment
Opportunities Commissioner, Saunoamaali’i Karanina
Sumeo.

While the increase in main benefits was
welcomed, Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero
said extra measures were necessary to lift disabled people
out of poverty.

“Disabled people and especially
children are more likely to live in poverty than
non-disabled people. Increasing disability related
allowances – recognising their additional costs and
barriers – would have helped address this disparity.
Sadly, we still have a long way to go when it comes to
alleviating poverty for disabled people,” she
said.

Ms Sumeo said overall while the budget seeks to
lift outcomes for people in New Zealand, the lack of
commitment to raising the living wage means that lowest-paid
including some essential workers continue to fall through
the cracks.

Lack of a clear plan to ensure women’s
and young people’s employment security especially, is
concerning. Investing in this would immediately help to
lower our disgraceful child poverty and household poverty
rates,” she said.

Ms Tesoriero said greater
commitment to building a sustainable inclusive education
system in the budget would also have been
welcomed.

“A truly inclusive education system is a
package which wraps curriculum, facilities, teacher training
and development, and support around disabled learners. Too
many disabled learners are still marginalised in our current
education settings. I urge the Government to make inclusive
education a priority in future budgets,” she
said.

Mr Hunt concluded: “If human rights, including
social rights, which New Zealand has signed up to, are
explicitly integrated into the Government’s policy making
processes this will strengthen and reinforce several of the
budget’s
initiatives.”

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