Disability providers welcome Penny Simmonds appointment as Minister for Disability Issues but are disappointed that she has not been given a seat at the Cabinet table, says New Zealand Disability Support Network CEO Peter Reynolds.
“Penny has a strong commitment to improving the lives of disabled people, arising from her lived experience with disabled family members. She has been an advocate for the community for many years, and we hope she will now deliver as Minister.
“We look forward to working with Minister Simmonds and supporting her in this important role to deliver better results for the 24% of New Zealanders with disabilities, their families, and the tens of thousands of Kiwis working in the disability sector.
“We are disappointed that incoming Prime Minister Luxon has not seen fit to put Minister Simmonds in Cabinet. Disability Issues is an important role, with an annual budget over $2b. Funding is very tight in the sector – increases averaging 10% a year over the past six years haven’t kept pace with growing need and cost pressures. The new government will also need to prioritise funding to deliver pay equity for care and support workers, so they can get the pay they deserve, and disability providers can offer competitive wages.
“We hope that leaving Disability Issues outside of Cabinet does not signify that it is a low-priority issue for the incoming government and that it will commit to delivering the funding that is so desperately needed.”