Deaf list MP bludgeons Speaker with her “human rights”

Mojo Mathers, deaf list MP

Mojo Mathers, deaf list MP

WARNING: Rant alert. Some interesting points here are perhaps obscured now and again by a sustained rantiness. Let me know what you think.

Here’s how to get stuff you want: turn it into a “human rights” issue. Then the very Speaker of the Parliament jumps to do your bidding, though you have no electors and no electorate votes granted you a seat in the highest forum in the land.

What high expectations Miss Mathers must have had during her campaign, such as it was. (I mean, not being elected by electors, did she have to talk to any?) Still, Mojo was full of confidence that, somehow, she’d end up with the “note-taker” (read: secretary) she claims she needed, no matter how many thousands of dollars it might cost.

To be precise, she eventually said that without a note-taker, estimated to cost $20,000 to $30,000 a year, she could not participate in Parliament. Quite a gamble then, wasn’t it, to go ahead?

For without establishing the availability nor her capacity to obtain such a note-taker, she bulldozed ahead, aided by her good green friends, not to win an electorate seat, for that would be too hard for a disabled person, but to win a position on the Greens’ list. Then hope for a good turnout on polling day. Then get a seat courtesy of MMP, or, as I like to call it, the Complicator.

No sooner was she in the Parliament than the campaign started to get taxpayer funding to compensate for her disability. Which she knew about, and knew she couldn’t play a part in the house without help. Pressure mounted on the Speaker, as the nearest public servant, to shift the cost from her personally and from her party and onto the dwindling, long-suffering taxpayer.

Disabled have right to normal person’s privilege

What principle guided the Greens in this campaign? Only some vaguely-defined notion of “human rights” and a Parliament which should “mirror” everyone in New Zealand. Strange nonsense.

Then, just the other day, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei let slip an incredible admission: “We want an outcome that recognises democratic participation in Parliament for people with disabilities is a right not a privilege.”

But democratic participation in the Parliament for normal people is a privilege, not a right. They are not different types of people, so their rights are not different. Am I right?

This is poppycock, but probably to be expected in the mish-mash of socialist thinking that now rules us. Miss Turei is seriously mistaken to assign normal and disabled people different, contrary rights. If a person is disabled they must overcome that disability to perform ordinary tasks, such as shopping or getting dressed in the morning. If they need help, help is available. But how much more important is it that they demonstrate their mastery of normal life when called to perform the extraordinary task of representing electors in the Parliament?

Or who will compensate the elector when their representative gives them inferior representation by virtue of their disability? What “rights” do the Greens grant them to have their views adequately portrayed? What matching duty do MPs bear to honour their electors’ rights by providing good representation?

This matter of the “note-taker” bypasses all of this logic and all we hear about is the poor little deaf person victimised by the nasty big government.

Punch in the face removes rights

Ensconced in our comfortable way of living, we are forgetting much about ourselves, especially the bit that explains our rights: they can only be provided if and when someone accepts them as their duty, and how else could it possibly be? You have no “right” to proceed along the street unmolested if someone punches you in the face. Your “right” is no protection against assault. It’s a will o’ the wisp, an empty dream.

Of course, in a just city, the offender subsequently will be punished by a judge, but that is not enough to restore your “right” to remain unpunched. Only when all other persons on the street with you accept it as their duty to leave you alone will you enjoy what you are pleased to call your “rights”. Their acceptance of this as their duty is your only protection.

Until then your rights are worth nothing. Oh, and they’re nothing to do with the UN, either – they’re too far away. Now, where were we? Ah yes, the Parliament and deaf people trying to hear the debate.

The final point to observe about Miss Mathers is her unelected status. No registered voter cast a vote for her on polling day. Her presence in the Parliament is the result of back-room bargaining on some cold, dark night months ago. No electors were consulted in that election.

Nobody voted for her

And her deafness must have been worth, in that charged green atmosphere, golden points. Oh, the dreams of those social engineers, those do-gooders, those human rights zealots, when they saw the opportunity to put not just a woman, but a disabled woman, into the great NZ Parliament, and they pushed her further and further up the list!

But haven’t they muddied the waters?

For now we have a non-representative MP being granted thousands of taxpayer dollars to exert a non-existent “right” (not a privilege) to participate non-democratically in the Parliament, representing nobody.

Clever lot, them.

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17 Thoughts on “Deaf list MP bludgeons Speaker with her “human rights”

  1. Clarence on 10/03/2012 at 11:18 am said:

    This was all an exercise in political point-scoring.

    There was never any doubt that Ms Mathers would be provided with an assistant when she was in the debating chamber. The only issue was which budget (all taxpayer-funded) would meet the cost.

    The Speaker pointed out that:
    (1) It would amount to only 2% of the Green Party’s allocated “hours” of funded assistance;
    (2) The Party had not used its full budget;
    (3) He had already exhausted his budget, so would need a “top-up”.

    The Green delegation (Hughes & Mather) had an amicable chat with the Speaker, when it was agreed that the issue would be referred to some appropriate Committee. Later that day, Hughes issued an aggressive media statement deploring the Speaker’s refusal to help the hapless disabled Mathers.

    • As always, Clarence, your unmatched political understanding is beyond words. But your explanation increases the intense irritation of our representatives behaving with such a determined lack of principle while calling on… er… principle.

  2. Andy on 10/03/2012 at 2:39 pm said:

    I am sure Ms Mather will do a wonderful job representing the needs of Christchurch East (the forgotten people), once she has got her note-taker etc.

    • Presumably she’ll be paying equal attention to the denizens of the other 69 electorates as well, including me in East Coast Bays, since as a list MP she’s not associated with any electorate and represents none.

      I’m sorry to hear you are the forgotten people. If we could only remember to do something about that… What do you need?

    • Andy on 10/03/2012 at 3:17 pm said:

      Thanks for your concern. I personally need nothing,as we have moved to our bach in South Canterbury for 2 years minimum. The people of East ChCh do feel neglected though.

      When Aaron Gilmore was a list MP for ChCh East, he did actually engage with the locals quite well (he and I had a chat about the ETS, for example). Maybe he had aspirations beyond the list. I’d hope that they all consider the electorate first, but sadly the MMP system doesn’t encourage this.

      I took my hat off to Damian O’Connor in Westport who stepped aside from the list for it was, as he put it, a “gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists”

  3. Peter Fraser on 10/03/2012 at 3:00 pm said:

    Kurt Vonnegut got it almost right. Was it in “Sirens of Titan” where political correctness was such that the gifted had to use artificial handicaps to bring themselves back equal with the masses. Here we have the antithesis

    • Wow! Already, to openly prefer the performance of the able is to be criticised for deprecating that of the disabled, though one does no such thing. For to describe as inferior that which is inferior is not to deprecate. /rant

  4. Douglas on 10/03/2012 at 4:51 pm said:

    Mojo Mathers, deaf list MP

    The ‘human rights’ meme is a very long bow the greens draw. Quite simply, she is simply not fit for the purpose in that forum. Surely the greens could have found somone who could engage – or did they simply want to make what is plainly a stupid point.

    • Well, I think, as Clarence explains above, it was always about scoring political points. And that’s an empty purpose anyway.

      “Not fit for purpose.” I like that. Simple, ain’t it?

  5. Gary Kerkin on 10/03/2012 at 5:04 pm said:

    I am afraid you are not being entirely fair Richard, and others. I suggest you should not let your political feelings about the Green Party overshadow your altruistic feelings. There are three official languages in New Zealand. English, Maori and, like it or not, NZ Sign Language. A Maori translation service is already utilised. So why should there not be either a notation service, or a sign language interpreter available? For that matter why is there not a subtext caption service available for Parliament TV?

    It is not fair to say someone with a disability should not be able to participate in democracy and those who think so should be ashamed. I would hope that they do not mean that there should be a plutocracy of the able-bodied.

    • Hi Gary. Thanks for your moderating influence.

      You might not have noticed that my fairness is impeccable. I insist that the disabled presence in the Parliament is a privilege, not a right, in contradiction of the Green party, who proclaim it a right for the disabled (but not for the normal person, for whom it’s a privilege, always was). That is divisive nonsense.

      The fact that a language is official does not mandate taxpayer-funded means of conversing in that language. But my major objection is that sign language is hardly a language and should not be used in the Parliament. Would it be permitted in a laboratory? What would be the magnified possibilities of ambiguity or error?

      As to “participating” in democracy, that is not at issue here. We’re discussing the ability of a disabled person to represent electors in the highest forum in the land. Besides, if deafness inevitably means the inability to hear what is said, then non-participation in the ensuing vote is automatic, logical and entirely reasonable. The only method for the deaf person would be to use a proxy. I have no problem with that.

      A plutocracy is rule by the wealthy. I prefer an aristocracy, or rule by the best, but that there is now rule by the normal, or, as you call it, able-bodied, is indisputable. It is natural, preferable, lawful, practical and effective. Do you disagree? If you were forced to be represented by a blind person, would you be content?

      I would not. It is the height of stupidity, just as is admitting a deaf person to the Parliament – the house of speaking. Not that you are stupid, of course.

    • Andy on 10/03/2012 at 5:35 pm said:

      It’s worth noting that David Blunkett was a blind MP in Tony Blair’s government and he became Education Secretary, Home Secretary and Work and Pensions Secretary during the Blair years.

      Disability shouldn’t prevent us from achieving in life, and I am sure that Mojo Mathers has had to overcome many obstacles.

      However, I can’t help feeling that she has been used as a pawn in a bit of political grandstanding by the Greens.

    • Well said, Andy. As you say, it’s all about overcoming obstacles, or disabilities, and it’s not about expecting the taxpayer to make that possible. Asking the taxpayer for help, sure, but not expecting it as your right. This is not about rights. It’s about abilities.

    • Gary Kerkin on 10/03/2012 at 9:03 pm said:

      My initial response was similar to that of Andy’s. I discussed it with my daughter who very quickly brought me to a sudden halt with her view of fairness, as distinct from my slightly jaundiced view. In the course of the discussion I asked her if there was a simultaneous translation service into/from Maori. That was when she reminded me that sign language was an official language as well. I have an uncomfortable feeling that Ms Mather’s position on the list may have been predicated on generating a confrontation. But it would not easy to demonstrate that.

      I apologise for my “loose” use of the word plutocracy. I was trying to imply an elitism based on physical capability and couldn’t quite think of another word, without inventing one! I’m also tired having been at a Royal Arch Convocation with some duties to undertake and am looking forward to driving home tomorrow (Sunday) — well, not exactly! It’s a 7 hour drive.

      I don’t agree with your premise, but that is not a problem for me. We ought to be able to debate issues such as this dispassionately. I get concerned when I suspect other influences are coloring people’s attitudes. For example, some of the comments are, I suspect, colored by an attitude to MMP and list members. That Ms Mather is a list MP is irrelevant. It happens to be our electoral system and a party is entitled to nominate who they wish for their list. We may see some changes to the transparency of the lists and our ability to pick and choose rather than selecting the whole list in the review of the system, and that would be a good change. But make no mistake, I favour proportional representation because it allows me to feel that I have some influence, no matter how microscopic. Under FPP, living in the Waikato electorate would have me feeling completely disenfranchised. Even were I a National Party supporter I would not be able to bring myself to vote for the incumbent! Were I a NP supporter I would probably feel the same if lived in, say, Mt Albert.

  6. Mike Jowsey on 11/03/2012 at 11:43 am said:

    Why can’t she lip-read? I have a profoundly deaf relative who despises being treated specially. He has a penchant for holding a lengthy conversation without anybody realising he is deaf. He has worked and does work at this skill with a passion. He also runs a very successful interior decorating business, sans secretary.

    Lazy list MPs, deaf or not, garner no sympathy from me.


    • Gary Kerkin on 12/03/2012 at 5:05 am said:

      She could lip read who ever is speaking at the time provide he or she always faces her. One of the problems, though, is that she cannot see, let alone hear interjections, which come from all around the house, and particularly when she might be speaking herself. As you know, MP’s on their feet often respond to interjection.

  7. Andy on 11/03/2012 at 12:02 pm said:

    Speaking of MPs rights, I did read that members of the European Parliament got free Viagra.

    Mind you, it was in The Sun.
    Worth reading though, just for the “willy implant” bit

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