Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Election Survey: Brian Ward (UnitedFuture)

Here's the second response from a UnitedFuture candidate, Brian Ward, who is their candidate for Rangitata and no. 18 on the UnitedFuture party list. The other reply (to date) from a UnitedFuture candidate has been from Kelleigh Sheffield-Cranstoun.

The Questions & Answers
Question 1. What do you believe is currently the single biggest issue facing New Zealand women, and how would you like to address it if you are elected?
Work-life balance and choice designed to meet the needs of women. Examine all aspects of our organizational workplace culture, identify the barriers to opportunity and work up ideas and policies to address the issues.

Question 2. New Zealand women are paid, on average, over $300 a week less than men, and the difference is worse for Maori and Pacific Island women. What do you propose as a first step towards closing the gender pay gap?
Review any past studies carried out and, if necessary provide more evidence of the pay gap. From this knowledge work up ideas to address the issue.

Question 3. Do you think NZ's current approach to reproductive rights (abortion, contraception etc) is correct? (Yes or No or No Answer, please)
If not, what changes would you want to make?
I am not aware of any issues in this area.

Question 4. The police and the courts do not work in preventing violence against women. What other government actions would you take to ensure women can live without fear.
I am involved with a global group Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies. You will see that we are committed to eliminating the cycles of humiliation and violence that occur in societies around the world, including NZ. There are significant resources available through this organization to assist in addressing this problem. In simple terms we need to openly debate the issues, including understanding the socio-cultural causes of violence. This can take many forms.

Question 5. Those who do the caring work in our society, paid and unpaid, are often the least recognized and the lowest paid, and they work the longest hours. What do you see as the priority to address these issues for those caring for our sick, our elderly and our children?
UnitedFuture has a range of policies specifically in this area as our definition of family is wider than the mum dad and kids model, it includes those who care for others. I recommend a look at the policies at www.unitedfuture.org. There are detailed policies that are specific to this issue.

Question 6. The Ministry of Health has recently launched a campaign to encourage breastfeeding and is now recommending that babies be breastfeed to at least one year old. What do you think the government could do to ensure that every woman who wants to breast feed can?
At this point I am not knowledgeable enough to understand and comment on the issues here but would become so as required.

Question 7. What single measure do you think our political organizations could take to better encourage young women to be involved and take on leadership positions in our communities?
UnitedFuture has young women involved in the process – and they hold an equal position to anyone else as UnitedFuture is not restricted by any ideology, be it left, right, or any grouping limited by its definition. Inclusion is one of the strengths of UnitedFuture and anyone is able to be involved with no fear of exclusion, we know this is where true representation will come from. I define leadership as those who stand out by offering ideas to make a positive difference, not those aspiring to positions of authority - and we can all do that!

Question 8. Do you see domestic violence as an issue for women, for men, or for all New Zealanders? (Women, or Men, or all New Zealanders please)
If elected, what strategies would you like to pursue to eliminate domestic violence?
Domestic violence is but one symptom of a society struggling as it moves from a patriarchal to an egalitarian base. Please see the answer to 4. above. Understanding the causes of violence within a cultural context is a first step.

Question 9. Successive governments have effectively cut the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Do you believe people raising children alone should have sufficient financial support from the state so that they do not need to go to work until they believe that is the best choice for their family? (Yes or No or No Answer, please)
(no answer given)

Question 10. Women do the vast majority of cooking and shopping, and increases in food prices are a burden borne disproportionately by women. What do you think our government can or should do to ensure that everyone has access to good food?
I have no information or evidence on this so I am unable to offer a answer.

Question 11. Do you have any further comments that you wish to make about the role of women in our society? Please feel free to share your thoughts here.
I am happy to actively participate in initiatives that transform our society to an egalitarian one, including addressing issues of gender imbalance.


Anna said...

Thanks for this Brian. I found it quite thought provoking (despite the moments of fence-sitting!), particularly your comments on violence.

Are you able to comment on to what extent UnitedFuture actively sets out to incorporate Christian values into it's policy (if at all) these days? Do the 'predecessor' parties (I can't actually remember who they were now, other than Christian Heritage) which originally made up UF still play a role, as the different member parties of the Alliance used to, for example?

Brian Ward said...

Hi Anna

I am advised that UnitedFuture has no particular emphasis on any religion, there are candidates and members from all religious and non-religious backgrounds, and indeed this I consider to be a strength of it. My view is that we can achieve 'Unity in Diversity' by respecting each others views and working together.

For the record I follow no religious persuasion but think there can be found worthwhile values in all religions.