A campaign in support of deaf Green MP Mojo Mathers has demonstrated the power of the internet and social networks to help public groups organise and express their opinions.
Organised by Wellington student Merrin Macleod, the campaign was run on Change.org, a protest website that lets groups set up petition forms for others to fill in.
Just under 1500 people had signed the petition at time of writing; however, the system is different to simply ‘liking’ a Facebook page, as for each signature Change.org sends an email directly to the person being petitioned, in this case Parliamentary speaker Lockwood Smith.
The debate started last week when Smith refused to have Parliamentary Services pay for the electronic notetaker Mathers needed to be able to participate in parliamentary debates. Instead, Mathers was expected to pay for the service out of her own staff budget.
Petition signers can include a comment explaining why they have signed; for the Mojo Mathers petition, one user wrote, "Because it [sic] Parliament doesn't set the standard for full & open access to full & open debate, then it's not really full and open, is it?”
A previous petition on Change.org was partly responsible for overturning a decision to cut funding for a 24/7 rape crisis hotline.
Go here to view the Mojo Mathers petition and add your signature.