We are not alone – here at Point of Order – in questioning Tracey Martin’s spending on the “translation” of a written press statement into a sign language video. The Taxpayers Union (which also monitors government spending and hollers in protest when it spots squandering) regards the translation into sign language as a waste, when the vast majority of any deaf or hard-of-hearing persons are perfectly capable of reading the statement.
The Taxpayers Union asked the Ministry of Education for the cost of this extravagance. It reports:
“In a Friday afternoon media release, the Minister boasted that her statement had been translated into NZ Sign Language. After questioning from the Taxpayers’ Union, the Ministry of Education confirmed the translation cost “less than $800”.
The sum might not have been vast but unnecessary spending is unnecessary spending – full stop.
Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams says,
“Wasting nearly $800 for a three-minute video no one needs suggests the Minister either doesn’t get that deaf people can read, or has no care for wasting taxpayers’ money.”
“Most taxpayers would support more services to enable deaf people to fully participate in society. But wasting money on virtue signalling such as translating missives from the Minister’s Beehive office, when that money would be better spent on services people actually need, is plain wrong.”
Williams makes another good point in noting that sign language interpreters are in short supply.
“Not only is this a waste, it means an interpreter is pulled away from services such as enabling deaf people to communicate with a doctor or a teacher.”
And let’s not forget that in October Parliament ceased using sign interpreters during question time, because it was stretching resources and pulling interpreters away from essential services. The Taxpayers Union refers us to https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/ending-sign-language-service-during-question-time-huge-mistake-advocates-say