Mojo Mathers is a newly elected MP who just happens to be profoundly deaf. Of course there’s no issue with that- after all the New Zealand Sign Language is an official language of the land and Mojo is perfectly capable of making herself understood with spoken English anyway. So why this post? Simple- the Speaker of our House Of Representatives has told Ms Mathers that if she wants assistance in the debating chamber to better enable her to keep up with what is being said in real time (such as staff to provide immediate transcripts of what is being said) she or her Party, is going to have to fund the staff herself.
(‘Hansard‘ transcripts are shortly to be available in just two and a half hours, but of course that doesn’t allow anyone relying on the reported word to participate in live debate!)
For me there are few questions raised by the stance taken by Speaker Lockwood Smith.
1. As Ms Mathers is an elected representative shouldn’t any costs incurred in carrying out her parliamentary job be covered by Parliamentary Services? (Even more so given she has particular requirements that without which she would be unable to fully participate in the daily business of the parliament.)
2. Is The Speaker’s decision (supposedly based on guidelines he is bound by and feels contrained not to challenge without ‘consultation’) discrimination? It would certainly appear so.
3. Apparently Mr Smith delivered this decision to Ms Mathers in his office in the company of the Green’s ‘musterer’ (whip), Gareth Hughes (both of whom he’s referred to as ‘new’ and ‘inexperienced’ in parliamentary matters). Does this not smack somewhat of the overbearing headmaster? (Shades of the arrogant and domineering quizmaster in the old TV show!!??)