Petition for deaf MP tabled at Parliament

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 14:17 28/02/2012
Mathers
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
Mojo Mathers
Lockwood Smith
MAARTEN HOLL/Dominion Post
Lockwood Smith.

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A petition demanding  closed captioning of Question Time debates has been tabled at Parliament today.

More than 5000 people have signed the online petition, set up after it emerged deaf MP Mojo Mathers would have to fund a note-taker out of her own budget.

Wellington student Merrin Macleod, 22, started the protest and is amazed so many have given their support.

"I've never really been involved with campaigning before," she said. " I saw it on the news and I was really outraged at something so blatantly wrong.

"I can't see any way that it is morally or legally defensible to not provide fully for Mojo Mathers. Captioning would solve that problem and provide accessibility for others."

Once a petition is tabled in the House, it is the allocated to the appropriate select committee, who then decide how to proceed.

There was a public outcry when Speaker Lockwood Smith told Green list MP Mathers that she would have to use her office budget to pay for note-takers to provide an instant transcript of what is being said in Parliament.

Smith argued that a note-taker is a staffing cost, which he did not have the authority to approve. However, the matter would be discussed at the next Parliamentary Services Commission, which meets on March 7.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei wrote to Smith last month to request the meeting be brought forward.

Signing up to the petition Peter McLuskie wrote:  "This is discrimination. Ms Mathers should be provided with a sub-titling service out of the general Parliamentary budget. It is fundamental that any person elected to Parliament be provided with the necessary assistance to enable them to participate in the process."

James Littlewood added: "Because it Parliament doesn't set the standard for full & open access to full & open debate, then it's not really full and open, is it?"

Donald Matheson wrote: "It's just gobsmacking that we're having to sign a petition for this."

View the petition here.

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