Green Party disability issues spokesperson Mojo Mathers is marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by launching a new Member’s Bill, which will create a more inclusive and accessible New Zealand.
Ms Mathers’ Human Rights (Disability Assist Dogs Non-Discrimination) Amendment Bill explicitly states that a person cannot be a denied a service – such as housing or transport – on the basis that they have a disability assist dog.
“We have long way to go to make New Zealand a fully inclusive, accessible country, where people who have disabilities can live free from discrimination,” said Ms Mathers.
“I was determined to create my new Member’s Bill after hearing stories of New Zealanders being denied rental accommodation purely because they have a disability assist dog.
“This sort of discrimination should not be happening in 21st century New Zealand.
“Finding somewhere to live is already hard enough, but to have your rental application turned down time and time again purely because you have a disability assist dog is just wrong.
“Disability assist dogs are more than just your average mutt.
“Disability assist dogs perform many different tasks, such as retrieving objects for people in wheelchairs, or alerting deaf people to fire alarms or door bells – they are a critically important part of their owners’ lives.
“New Zealanders with disabilities should not be discriminated against because they need a disability assist dog to make their lives easier and more fulfilling.
“The law should unequivocally support New Zealanders living with disability and prevent discrimination – my Bill is the next step in that process and I hope there’ll be widespread support for it if it’s drawn,” said Ms Mathers.