As an MP I receive many lobbying letters. Today one arrived that really caught my attention. It was from the National Foundation for the Deaf, and it was about the cutbacks to ACC cover and entitlements for work-related hearing loss.
Attached to the letter was a very detailed 82 page position paper. The paper describes how the amendments to the ACC Act that Nick Smith pushed through last year:
- ignored the legal obligations required by the NZ Bill of rights Act 1990, the Human Rights Act 1993, the ILO Convention 17 and the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities;
- ignored the international specialist audiological research that states unequivocally that ACC’s assessment process is not scientifically validated, is unfair and inequitable, and produced variable outcomes;
- failed to consider the widespread economic costs of untreated NIHL to New Zealand; and
- dismissed the individual and community hardship incurred by claimants as a result of ACC failing its own statutory objectives.
I agree fully with the paper’s conclusions that the amendments to ACC legislation and regulations concerning noise-induced hearing loss cannot be justified on legal or ethical grounds as they enact discrimination on the basis of disability, age, and race.
They cannot be justified on scientific grounds, as the science does not support the basis of ACC’s hearing assessment and age-related hearing loss schedules.
They cannot be justified on economic grounds as the overall national costs of not treating noise-induced hearing loss are significantly outweighed by the benefits of providing comprehensive rehabilitation.
And they cannot be justified on social grounds, as the implementation of a government policy that knowingly precludes people with a life-altering sensory impairment from receiving rehabilitation is in contravention of human rights.
I’m going to be doing my best to keep raising this issue with Minister Smith. But I need your support, so how about reading the position paper I’ve linked to above and sending Nick Smith an email asking him to reconsider these cruel and discriminatory cuts.