Cost of social inclusion is more than taxpayers’ money

Youth MP Karan Kalsi

Youth MP Karan Kalsi; photo: Simon Woolf Photography

Youth MPs had the opportunity to put in a conscience vote for a mock Bill during their two day tenure at Youth Parliament 2016.

Thirty Youth MPs gave speeches on the Bill and voted whether the Bill should be passed as law.

The topic was addressing the issue of online accessibility for people with disabilities. The Bill was passed with 89 votes in favor and 29 against.

Jia Dua, Youth MP for Hon Phil Goff, spoke about New Zealand being a nation which has always been accountable and acceptable of differences.

"To me New Zealand is a country where the disabled does not mean less abled."

She spoke further about the internet not being a "one size fits all", model and emphasized that more could be done towards making websites user friendly for the disabled.

"Inaccessible web design makes for uneasy or even impossible internet usage for them."

The World Internet Project New Zealand survey conducted between 2007 and 2013 revealed that nine out of ten New Zealanders used the internet.

The percentage has increased from 82 per cent in 2007, to 92 per cent in 2013. The internet is constantly viewed as an important source of information, including access to government services.

However, a small number of Youth MPs disagreed citing extra costs for taxpayers.

William Muir, Youth MP for Hon Gerry Brownlee, argued that the Bill would force more regulation on small businesses and have a negative influence on innovation for technology.

"The online services already implemented for the disabled could be lost, if they are forced to be more compliant," he said. "The goal is also unrealistic to have it done in five years."

"Technology is moving forward at an incredible pace, trying to think forward to ten years, who knows what we will have by then.

"It's just bulky legislation which will have costly effects for private businesses."

Youth MP Jia Dua disagreed that money is not the issue at the context of the Bill.

"There will always be a cost of inclusion, but the cost of social inclusion outweighs it."

Karan Kalsi, Youth MP for Hon David Cunliffe, voted in favor of the Bill as well.

He agreed that New Zealand has become more digitally advanced and access to the internet therefore was a basic right.

"It will not bring a small apocalypse to small industries by passing more regulations.

"Having internet access has in fact helped the expansion of consumer bases and businesses alike," he said it would be a positive change "to allow for more growth".

"Each Kiwi should have the opportunity and dignity that they deserve.

"The internet may have failed them, but we haven't," he said.

- Nilam Patel, Youth Press Gallery