Greens call for expanded protection for renters, overseas voting for COVID-19 bill

The Green Party is calling for expanded protections for renters and extended eligibility for overseas voters for the COVID-19 Response Management Measures Legislation Bill, which is currently before select committee.

Green MPs have prepared two Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs), which will:

  • Expand the protections for renters under Alert Levels 3 and 4, to provide that restrictions on tenancy termination apply at Level 3 as well as Level 4, and to provide that rent cannot be increased at Level 3 or 4, and;
  • Extend the eligibility for overseas voters by providing that time spent overseas while an epidemic notice is in force and travel is disrupted does not count towards the three-year time window.

“COVID-19 has shone a glaring light on the inequalities in our society, but it has also shown that we can make big changes, fast, when we work together,” COVID-19 Response spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“The restriction on terminating residential tenancies are welcome, but they don’t go far enough. We believe the protections for renters should apply under Alert Level 3 as well as Alert Level 4,” Genter said.

Green spokesperson for electoral reform Golriz Ghahraman said: “The reality of this pandemic is that many people cannot renew their voting rights when they are home as they normally would. That is both deeply unfair to them and risks our democracy.

“The Government must also extend the three-year time-frame so New Zealanders stuck overseas can still exercise their democratic rights. This limit, too, has always failure those with the financial means to make regular visits home, but now with unprecedented expense and travel restrictions, voting has become even less accessible to Kiwis away from home.

“Disenfranchising those stuck overseas, through no fault of their own, is incompatible with a country that takes pride in having a Bill of Rights Act, and values highly a fair and equitable access to democracy.”

ENDS

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