Further moves to improve the lives of disabled people

The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill has passed its first reading in Parliament today, 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 comes shortly after 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.

To ensure that everyone can have their say on this important bill, the timeframe for the select committee process has been extended by three months. The 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 Poto 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.

The legislation, which delivers on a key Government manifesto commitment, 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 will come into effect by July 2024.