Underwhelming Election Options

With the election just around the corner, we are facing the perennial challenges of ensuring that disability rights and justice are being addressed by all political parties.

To that end, the performance of MPs from Labour, Greens, NZ First, ACT and National at the IHC Election Forum in Wellington 1 Oct was completely underwhelming. Almost all of the party reps expressed ableist views and used ableist language that demeaned and belittled disabled people.

In addition to no party sending their disability or senior spokesperson to the forum, which attracted a big audience in person and on line, the ignorance of key policy issues and realities of lived experience, and the continued use of platitudes and wishy washy ‘mom and apple pie’ talk was as alarming as it was indicative of where most politicians see disability and the value of disabled lives.

This feeling was reinforced by the lack of disabled people on party lists.

I was left with the feeling that at a government level we have very little leadership towards or understanding of what’s needed to run an equitable disability support system, let alone building a non-disabling society.

IHC, supported by CCS, People First and DPA are to be congratulated for shining a spotlight on this completely unacceptable state of affairs. Imagine Better encourages everyone to think about disability when thinking about voting, but based on what I heard at the forum the choices are more about finding the best of a bad bunch rather than having a good range of coherent, credible and comprehensive approaches from across the political spectrum.