Opinion: carers insulted by govt cuts

Minister for Disability Services Penny Simmonds should resign.

That’s the view expressed at a Dunedin protest about cuts to disability allowances by carer Christine Garey, who looks after a disabled family member — and also happens to be a Dunedin city councillor and a former deputy mayor.

"Shame on you prime minister for allowing, on your watch, this treatment of the most vulnerable in our society.

"I’ve never been angrier," she told the small and vocal group at the Octagon last Thursday.

"As for the minister — she needs to resign.

"Her insulting and disparaging comments and handling of this were appalling," Cr Garey said.

As local MP, I have been inundated with messages from disabled people and their carers in the Taieri electorate who have been traumatised by the callous cuts this government is making to their support.

Make no mistake, the sudden change to the criteria is nothing but a cut to services which are essential for the wellbeing of members of the community.

We have large numbers of people affected by this across the deep south, many of whom choose to live here because the flat terrain is more accessible for disabled and senior communities.

These are people who in many cases do heavy physical lifting, experience sleep deprivation and need respite, physio and other services to support them with their essential care work.

To imply they are living the high life at the expense of taxpayers is deeply insulting, especially coming from the minister who is supposed to be the champion of this community.

The decisions were made overnight without consultation and communicated appallingly on a website leaving people confused and distressed.

It is clear from Question Time in the House that the minister signed off the decision herself and did not seek bridging finance to support the needs of the community.

Instead of blaming the hard-working officials at the ministry, she should take responsibility and apologise to the disabled community.

Meanwhile, Christopher Luxon and the National government are continuing with their reckless tax cuts no matter the cost — and it is families here in Taieri who are going to pay the price.

Kiwi households have been dealing with the cost-of-living crisis for some time now, and yet in the five months since National came into government we haven’t seen a single policy to ease that pressure.

Instead of policies to make childcare more affordable, making most prescriptions free, or half-price public transport, the National government just spent nearly $3 billion on landlords and is still planning tax cuts that won’t benefit working people in the way they promised.

This is about choices. At the same time as refusing to commit to funding school lunches or reinstating flexibility around the funding for disability support, they’re choosing to prioritise landlords.