At an IHC conference many years ago an impassioned plea was made to a visiting minister for the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of Disability.
He replied that while that would give disability issues a voice at the cabinet table it would give all the other ministers an excuse to sideline disability issues as someone else’s business.
Act MP David Seymour is echoing that logic in wanting what he calls “demographic ministers” to be scrapped.
“I think it’s wrong to have ministers exist purely for a particular type of person. I actually think that all ministers should be working for all New Zealanders,” he says.
Different groups of people might have different issues but addressing them inevitably impacts on other groups in one way or another.
Siloing people and their issues emphasises differences and is more likely to put up barriers than build bridges.
Instead of ministries for different people we should have a single ministry for all people, or better still a culture within every ministry that considers the perspective of, balances the needs of, and works for, everyone.
That doesn’t mean ignoring different needs of different groups, be they be based on gender, age, ethnicity, or disability. It means looking at them and their differences – as part of the whole.
Rather than emphasising what separates us, it would build on what we have in common and as an added bonus, it might even save money.