16 May 2018
Parliament votes unanimously to create equitable playing field for candidates with disabilities
Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s Election Access Fund Bill has received the unanimous support of Parliament at its first
reading today. The Bill will now proceed to a select committee.
The Bill would establish a contestable fund for people who want to run as candidates in a general election but face
additional barriers because of disability – for example, a profoundly deaf candidate who needs a sign language
interpreter to participate in public debates. The fund would be overseen by the Electoral Commission. NGOs and political
parties will also be able to apply for funding to make their materials and processes more accessible.
“I’m absolutely stoked this Bill will go ahead, and that it’s got unanimous backing in Parliament,” said Ms Swarbrick.
“Everyone should be able to participate fully in our democracy. We have to remove the obstacles that hold people back
and prevent them from running as candidates or accessing election information. This Bill will help with that.
“This Bill will go some way to upholding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that guarantees
people with disabilities the right to fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others,
including the right and opportunity to vote and be elected.
“Those with disabilities are underrepresented in Parliament. If we are to be a true house of representatives then we
need to do more to remove the barriers that stop New Zealanders with disabilities taking part in our politics.
“Having support from every party in the House shows that we are all committed to an open, accessible democracy, and
ensuring every New Zealander gets a real say in how our country is run.
“I want to pay tribute to former Green MP Mojo Mathers who began this process, and who I know will be just as thrilled
as I am today to see it move forward,” said Ms Swarbrick.