Excellent post, Russell.
Perhaps Lockwood Smith should reflect on the fact that note-taker's are the cheap option. You'd probably need six NZSL interpreters to provide actual sign language support for Mojo during a single house session, and Wellington probably does not have the capacity to provide that many - requiring interpreters to be flown in from Auckland and elsewhere.
As for Leighton Smith, what would he know ? I know some Deaf people, and have never thought of them as speaking in a monotone; rather, they sound more like Mojo (although she has comparitively good articulation).
Apparently there was a small, and quiet change recently where the Hansard transcripts started going out unedited. Cost cutting. Obviously, communicating Parliament’s work to the public is a low priority—but communicating to elected MP’s?
I totally agree. Well written as always. I little worrying however is the fact that you mention Leighton Smith. I can't imagine that you would listen to him as he would rot the brain of any semi intelligent human being. I presume therefore that his comments were reported to you.
Ditto to Mikaere
What really got me annoyed was the idea that you would put wheelchair ramps in to enable access to the building, but not enable access to the debate. I know for a fact that closed captioning parliamentary tv has been raised a number of times with the Clerk of the House ever since they started broadcasting, as has live access to Hansard (even if it is “uncorrected”). Parliament, unfortunately, is its own little fiefdom in many respects and it’s very difficult to make them do anything.
Edit: It has been pleasing, however, to see that most commenters are seeing the issue along the "how unfair" and "how ridiculous" lines - the few pricks like Leighton Smith and one or two others in Stuff comments ("why should she get anything different? moan moan Taxpayer dollars") are indeed few.
Lockwood may be technically correct to say that the law doesn't allow him to just order up new staff for an MP (and, in fact, closed captioning tv would not be that but would be an improvement to an already operating service), but his manner of saying it makes him look like a complete tosser. The wheels are getting a bit shaky on this government already.
Technically, the appropriations were made in the 2011/12 Budget back in May last year, including Vote: Parliamentary Service and Vote: Office of the Clerk. The Votes are broken down into various sub-categories. As and when need arises through the financial year, the Government can and does approve additional monies which are in turn approved by Parliament as Supplementary Estimates.
Yes, it is important that public money is spent for the purposes for which Parliament appropriated it. But as #eqnz and #rena showed us, the system has the ability to cope with the new and unexpected.
Ask yourself this: if Mojo had been a National MP, would Lockwood have made sure that officials found a way to work through the issues and come up with a solution before the first sitting day of 2012? Of course.
As Andrea Vance notes:
How about seeing the "problem" in a different way? The Te Reo translation service is funded by Parliamentary Service because it is a service "for all MPs".
Isn't having Mathers fully participate in the House also a service to all MPs?
I don't think Lockwood has his head around that - but to be fair, neither do most people. Without a proper widespread education effort, attitudes won't improve anywhere near fast enough to keep up with social and economic changes.
Disability has always been a normal part of human existence, and we need everyone's contributions without silly barriers like this one being put in the way.
it's very difficult to make them do anything
Sometimes it can work, if approached positively and with an understanding of where the right places/people to start with. Going at it like a bull at a gate is almost always a recipe for failure.
good post Russell. I was working in the area of EEO for about a decade from the mid 80s. It is disheartening to see that generally-abled people and organisations still do not quite grasp what the well known and well used terms 'level playing field' and 'equal opportunity' mean and still do not know how to apply them to the workplace. As for reducing it to cost, well the related laws of our land do not contain that qualification so it does not apply. To be still debating these issues after so many years and governments is a marker of the lip service government pays to these laws.
I understand that Parliamentary Services and co have been good about engaging since November to make changes.
Willingness to pay for it seems the biggest problem. As it often is - brings the matter of disabled people's value into sharp focus, though you can guarantee most of those conversations have been happening silently inside people's heads where old attitudes lurk and wreak mischief.
If a Member of Parliament has trouble justifying what they add, imagine what it's like for the rest of this country's disabled citizens?
Edit: It has been pleasing, however, to see that most commenters are seeing the issue along the "how unfair" and "how ridiculous" lines
Danyl's observation that journalists like to use the word "Mojo" in headlines was pretty good. This has meant a framing advantage to Mojo and the Greens' perspective, rather than that of the Speaker.
I give it 48 hours.
I know for a fact that closed captioning parliamentary tv has been raised a number of times with the Clerk of the House ever since they started broadcasting, as has live access to Hansard (even if it is "uncorrected").
I used to work making closed captions for the telly. Live captioning is complicated, especially when there's no script available (like there is with most of a news broadcast). In other countries, super fast stenographers are used, but there's apparently a shortage of those in NZ as they are lured away for bigger paycheques overseas. In Australia, for example, all news and current affairs television must be captioned.
But if there's already a transcript available (Hansard!) it's a lot easier to prepare captions in advance. This could be made available online, rather than broadcast live on Parliament TV.
But it's still expensive and still takes time and the money has to come from somewhere. Like anything, the people who would most benefit from this sort of service need to keep on pushing for it.
Yes, yes, yes. And yes.
If Parliament can't set the standard for open access, what's the darn point?
Mojo's election to parliament filled me with pride, for her, and the rest of us.
Speaking of: if you like parliamentary diversity that reflects the rest of us, don't forget to tell the mmp review.
I am fervently hoping that this is the Nats' Jumping the Shark moment. Let the vast majority of NZers fall out of love with them for this anti-valentine message to Mojo from Lockwood.
Like anything, the people who would most benefit from this sort of service need to keep on pushing for it.
and like most things, disabled people have the least resources to do that with.
More importantly, in terms of this discussion, here's a petition for NZParl to do the right thing.
I used to work making closed captions for the telly. Live captioning is complicated, especially when there’s no script available (like there is with most of a news broadcast).
Are the live-captioned broadcasts you’re talking about really live, like UN-speech-earpiece live?
How difficult would it be to produce a slightly-delayed broadcast with captions – a few minutes off-live, for instance? I have some experience with rapid transcription (though not for broadcast) and while it’s personnel-intensive that seems like something that would be pretty doable.
Stretch the delay out to 10 minutes and while it wouldn’t be much use to those actually IN the house, it would be quite easily done and an invaluable resource for the rest of us. And a dual-stream Parliament TV Live and Parliament TV+10 with captions sounds like the exact sort of thing Freeview was intended for.
I’ve noted elsewhere that when Parliament was refurbished in the 90’s, induction loops were installed in the Debating Chamber and Gallery without undue trauma or sending the nation into the arms of the IMF.
Funny what a little bit for forward planning and grown-up non-fuckery can do, isn’t it?
Another little factoid the Kiwi-buggers seem to have problems wrapping their heads around: Mojo Mathers is a legitimate and duly elected Member of Parliament. It was pretty obvious early in the campaign that there were better than even odds a profoundly deaf MP would be returned to the next Parliament.
Was this really totally out of the blue, Mister Speaker? And as Idiot Savant has noted with (IMO justified asperity) how hard would it have been to get David Shearer and Gerry Brownlee (i.e. the other two members of the Parliamentary Services Commission) in a room before Christmas and sort it? After all, it took three days not three months and counting for Parliament to pass legislation under extreme urgency to avoid a by-election. A relatively minor expenditure to allow an MP to do her frigging job should be a doddle.
ETA: I'm going to have to track down one of the more deligtfully daffy British arguments against women's suffrage. You let them vote, then you're going to end up with women MPs - and the completely unjustifiable drain on the public purse of providing them with *cough* "facilities". Really.
Yes. Absolutely agree. Appalling that Lockwood would prevaricate about this.
If Mojo Mathers was taking a university course she would be entitled to a note-taker with no increase in fees. If she also had a learning disablity such as dyslexia, she would be entitled to a note-taker and someone to assist her with her essays. If the education system can sort this out, why can't parliament?
Good post Russell, on many levels.
Agree with the above, it is quite disgraceful that it has taken so since the election to get traction on this
On the other hand what the have the Greens been doing about getting a proper set up for their member, I don't think it should come out of the monies they get from Government Services but surely they might have pushed for their new member to be able to participate before now
I sense a bit of grandstanding here but frankly it is a poor showing all round
The Mojo issue has single-handedly brought out the Social Darwinist siptefuls in our midst. It says more about them than Mojo. Are they the same kind of people who park in disability spaces without a permit? If so, then I have a proposal: grant them a disability permit on the spot with a Minto bar, and see how they cope.
Ten minutes of Mojo vs.Lockwood (sequential) on Close Up last night.
Unsurprisingly, the Speaker reports that:
"One of our problems with the computer systems that we have... the latest computer systems aren't that compatible with the only available software to help with that transcription of what's going on in the House. We're looking at even re-writing software or getting whole new software...".
There is an easy solution available to her - defect to the National Party (temporarily, of course). Problem will be fixed within days, if not hours, I'm sure.
I'd put $300 towards a note taker for Mojo if Lockwood doesn't provide.
Do you think there are another 99 people in NZ who'd do the same?