Kapiti’s Green list MP Jan Logie has written a special report for KIN on the furore surrounding Speaker Lockwood Smith’s refusal to help Mojo Mathers. Here’s her story –
MP with Mojo to help disabled
By Green MP Jan Logie, of Paekakariki
Mojo Mathers, the 14th Green Party MP is an intelligent, articulate advocate for people with disabilities, the environment and animals.
She has been involved in the party and politics for many years. She also happens to be profoundly deaf.
‘I have loved working with Mojo
As another new Green MP I have loved working with Mojo, she often offers very sharp and insightful contributions to our shared deliberations. I also have respect for all her years of advocacy and the knowledge that comes with this. I must also say that I’m proud to be part of a party that can see that.
We are willing to adapt the ways we work because we recognise all too often our ways of working have been set up to support those with hearing, sight, physical mobility and an ability to argue and brag.
Systems are not inherent they are created and they can enable or disable people. The Green party doesn’t want to disable anyone.
The House has been set up and significant financial investment has been made to support people with hearing. This gives those of us with hearing access to participate freely in the working of the House.
Speaker fails to get point
Yet somehow the Speaker of the House doesn’t seem to grasp that the House has a similar duty to provide appropriate resources for people with hearing impairments or the profoundly deaf.
The Speaker has said that funding for note takers to enable Mojo to follow debate in the House and select committees should either be funded out of Mojo’s own staff entitlements or that Mojo should accept the offers of financial contributions from other parties.
At one stage there was even the suggestion that Mojo should apply to Workbridge for funding. This is treating Mojo as if she has the problem and should fix it herself or be grateful for the charity of others.
Parliament has resources and the participation of every member in the House is part of our democratic process.
Effectiveness would be compromised
If Mojo pays out of her own support budget she would not be able to do any of the other things that the rest of us do with that allocation. Her effectiveness would be severely compromised. To take money from other parties would be to leave the disabling role of Parliament and the Speaker unchallenged. I certainly don’t think that’s what the disability community would want in their first ‘out’ representative.
I think Mojo has a lot to offer Parliament and I think we all deserve to get the value of her participation.
Mojo said it best
I think Mojo probably said it best in her Maiden speech last night:
“My election on the Green Party list under MMP means that hearing impaired, Deaf and people with disabilities have representation in Parliament by someone who shares with them many of the same experiences and challenges that they face.
Mr Speaker, I made the point yesterday that funding for electronic notetakers and equipment should not be coming out of my support budget, which all members receive, because no MP with a disability should be expected to fund their participation in the house in this way.
To put the cost in context, a few years ago, Parliament spent nearly $1m upgrading the audio system in the chamber so that MPs could hear better.
I am hopeful that Parliament will show leadership in this area and move quickly to resolve this, so that I can get on with the work that I was elected to do.”