Disability Issues Minister Poto Williams admits giving disabled communities 24 hours for mask mandate feedback wouldn't 'have stood up' at UN

  • 03/09/2022

The Government recently established a brand new Ministry of Disabled People - a decision praised and welcomed as long overdue.

But after revelations the ministry this week gave disabled communities just 24 hours to give feedback on proposed mask mandate reductions, has it already blundered?

Newshub Nation asked Disability Issues Minister Poto Williams why the ministry gave disabled communities such a short amount of time for feedback.

"The ministry was asked to collect feedback earlier this week, which they've done so, and it's really important that we acknowledge that the disability community is impacted - and they certainly have a view and it's important that view is provided to Cabinet," she told host Simon Shepherd.

"I personally would have preferred more time to make sure that the views were widely canvassed. In saying that Whaikaha - the Ministry of Disabled People - went to key stakeholder groups… and will provide that information and advice to ministers.

"The mask mandate, and the use of masks, is very important to people with disabilities - they have concerns and they certainly have a very strong view about them."

Williams led a Government delegation to the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Switzerland last week. Pressed on what the UN would've thought of the 24-hour timeframe for feedback, Williams admitted, "in the context of consultation, this would not have stood up in terms of what is best practice".

"The process of going to the UN is to ensure that the convention is embedded in all parts of Government," she said.

Watch the video for the full interview.

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