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Action Alert - Human Rights Amendment Bill
Peace Movement AotearoaPO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173, firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued 28 September 1998
Should the government pass legislation to LESSEN our human rights ?
ACT NOW to stop this happening !
The Human Rights Amendment Bill 1998, which will seriously weaken the 1993 Human Rights Act, had its first reading in Parliament on 19 August and the second reading is expected very soon. There are currently two opportunities to stop the Bill - see the second part of this message for details.
1) OPPOSITION TO THE AMENDMENT BILL IS FOCUSED on the way it will :
* permanently exempt existing and future legislation from the provisions of the Human Rights Act;
* make the Human Rights Act permanently subordinate to other legislation - this is in direct opposition to the aims of the Act which were that all other legislation would have to be in line with it;
* permanently exempt future regulations, which only require Cabinet and not parliamentary approval, from the provisions of the Human Rights Act;
* specifically provide for continued discrimination in the areas of health services, disability services, income and other forms of social assistance;
* specifically allow the defence forces to continue their discriminatory practices in the provision of housing;
* leave in place discriminatory legislation - such as the Juries Act which prevents people with disabilities from serving on juries.
While government spokespeople have said that there are some areas in which they wish to operate positive discriminatory practices (such as old age pensions, and free health care for under sixes), the Human Rights Commission has pointed out that these practices are already allowed under the Human Rights Act.
There is no need for the government to pass this legislation to permanently sub-ordinate human rights in this country - the Human Rights Amendment Bill merely shows their lack of willingness to seriously honour their commitments under the Act (this lack already demonstrated by their scrapping of the Consistency 2000 project). It is quite absurd, not to mention arrogant, for a government to exempt itself from human rights legislation.
2) OPPORTUNITIES TO STOP THE BILL
a) The first and most URGENT is to try and have the bill voted out of Parliament on the second reading. If you wish to use this opportunity then it is extremely important that you contact your MP NOW demanding that they vote against it at the second reading stage.
As well, you could contact the eight MPs who may choose to vote against the government on this issue - they are:
Ann Batten (Independent) - fax 04 471 2414, tel 04 470 6699; Neil Kirton (Independent) - tel 04 470 6682; Deborah Morris (Independent) fax 04 471 1443, tel 04 471 9977; Peter Dunne (United) - fax 04 499 7266, tel 04 471 9490; Christine Fletcher (National) - fax 04 473 0469, tel 04 471 9492; Alamein Kopu (Independent) - tel 04 470 6652; Rana Waitai (Independent) - fax 04 472 7751, tel 04 470 6689; Robyn McDonald (NZ First) - fax 04 473 7504, tel 04 471 9959. Or you can write to each at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).
In addition, you could convey your views on this to your local and the nationally distributed newspapers, talk back or Access radio - anywhere you can think of to raise the issue.
Contacts for the nationally distributed papers are : Christchurch Press , fax (03) 364 8492, <email@example.com>; Dominion, fax (04) 4740257; Evening Post, fax; (04) 474 0237, < firstname.lastname@example.org>; Herald , fax (09) 373 6434; Sunday Star Times, fax (09) 309 0258.
You could also make your views on this known to Doug Graham - Doug Graham's office tel 04 471 9950; fax 04 471 2922; and Jenny Shipley - Prime Minister's office tel (04) 471 9998; fax (04) 473 7045; or write to either at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).
b) The second possibility for stopping this bill is at the Select Committee stage - however, to get to that the bill has to pass its second reading. If this happens, we will let you know how to get your submission in to the relevant Select Committee.
A draft letter which you can use to base your letter to MP/s, Ministers etc on is available from PMA in paper form only - please send an SAE for your copy. If replying to this alert by email, then make sure you send your fax number or postal address. The draft letter was written by the Campaign to Defend our Human Rights Act.