Labour's human rights policy released today sets a busy and important programme for a Labour Government, human rights
spokesperson Tim Barnett said.
The policy covers law, education and structures. It ensures full public debate on key outstanding human rights matters
before the end of 2001
Tim Barnett said the current generation is the carrier and guardian of human rights which others have fought for.
"It is vital that we take that responsibility seriously," Tim Barnett said.
"The National Government has tried to kill the potential of the Human Rights Act with a combination of apathy and
hostility. They have under-resourced the Commission, encouraging them not to rock the boat. They have minimal
expectations of human rights progress; it is years since any Government Minister made a significant speech on human
rights. To add insult to injury, they froze the Consistency 2000 human rights audit process and then tried to give
Government permanent exemption from the Act.
"Labour recognises just how important human rights are to New Zealanders. They must be protected by efficient and
approachable agencies which focus on the big issues while not forgetting the little person. Our policy has been worked
out in close consultation with key human rights agencies. I am immensely proud of it, and excited by the challenge of
working with colleagues in Government to make the words reality," Tim Barnett said.
Other specific commitments include:
· Making the Human Rights Act apply to all other laws unless specifically exempted;
· Advocating to other political parties that the Human Rights Act be entrenched;
· Revitalise the Human Rights Commission, refocusing towards education and test case work;
· Ensuring improved public access to the services of the Commission, including contact points in provincial centres;
· Improving resource-sharing between complementary human rights agencies.