Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Election Survey: The entire Kiwi Party

Gordon Copeland emailed me to let me know that the Kiwi Party would make one response, based on their party policies, rather than individual candidate responses. I clarified with him whether this indicated that they would not have conscience votes on the issues raised, and he confirmed that the answers are based on their party policy, rather than conscience issues. So make of all that what you will, and read their answers after the break.

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?
The breakdown of the family. The Kiwi Party will address this by appointing a Royal Commission to understand and address the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence, and child abuse.

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?
The Kiwi Party will raise the adult minimum wage to $15 per hour with an offsetting tax credit to employers. This will benefit thousands of women, many of whom are working in low paid jobs. Please note that increasing the minimum wage will lead to increases in wages also much further up the scale and will also lead to an increase in the level of NZ Super.

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?
No. We would introduce the concept of "informed consent" and "free consent" to current abortion laws and invest in ensuring that every woman expecting a child receives adequate care and support. We would require parental consent prior to an abortion for someone under 16 years of age.

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.
See the answer to Question 1. The Kiwi Party believes that we need a "fence at the top of the cliff" approach so that, by both law and practice, we can reduce the level of violence against women in New Zealand.

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?
We will promote income splitting for couples with dependent children. Our policies will also promote families as the first carers for their own elderly and regulate for minimum requirements and better pay for health professionals caring for the elderly and the sick.

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?
Ensure that any remaining barriers to breast feeding are removed.

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?
No particular policy. Women are involved at all levels in the Kiwi Party.

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?
Yes but domestic violence disproportionately affects women. Specifically we are committed to investing in marriage preparation, marriage enrichment and parenting courses through faith based, charitable, iwi and other third sector organisations. Also see our answer to question 1.

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)
Yes. We favour an in depth review of benefit levels to ensure that they adequately reflect the actual cost of living. Our policy will however be designed to significantly reduce the number of single parent families in New Zealand. The Government should ensure that all New Zealanders receive an income which enables them to fittingly provide for their dependents.

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?
(no answer given)

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.
The Kiwi Party recognises that all people have an equality of dignity, regardless of sex or any other criteria.


Hugh said...

I've got to say I think that the party refusing to have conscience votes is a good idea. I've never really understand the logic behind conscience votes - it seems to me that the feeling is there are some things it's not appropriate for political parties to have positions on, which is a bit difficulty to square with the notion that we give parties a mandate based on their positions.

Anna said...

I completely agree, Hugh. Having conscience votes implies that there are some issues which somehow aren't political and just a matter of personal preference. Of course, the matters on which conscience votes tend to be used - eg reproductive rights, rights of gay people - are highly political. Conscience votes have the effect of giving a free rein to bigots without calling them to account for their views.

So while I don't agree with the Kiwi Party's stances, I like the fact that they've made them upfront policies rather than planning to sneak them under the radar via conscience votes.

I have a grudging respect for Gordon Copeland - there's no disputing that the guy sticks to his principles.

The Kiwi Party has that same interesting mix of moral conservatism and like of economic intervention which Winston, Muldoon etc have advocated. They're quite good at linking social problems to poverty on one hand, but also to linking them to family breakdown/marriage on the other.

Interesting that family breakdown is a catch-all for just about everything from poverty to child abuse to de facto relationships to same sex relationships to you name it.

stargazer said...

there answer to question 1 is really strange, since they are the party that advocated for and got a families commission. said commission has already undertaken significant research (and collation of existing research) around what makes successful families. why would we then waste another whole heap of money on a royal commission, to tell us what we already know?

to me, the royal commission idea says that they don't support the families commission, their own invention, because it's not giving the narrow answers that UF had wanted.

Hugh said...

Calling for a royal commission is usually a form of dog-whistling. I.e, 'we have a position, but we don't want to publicise it, so we'll call on a royal commission to identify "the truth" - and since everybody thinks their own views are "the truth", they think the commission will agree with them'.

On issues like 'the breakdown of the family' there really is no hidden wisdom to be found in the bureaucracy, or academia, or the voluntary sector, or any of the other areas usually mined for their expertise.

Anna said...

I think that the Families Commission has been more progressive that it's proponents intended. I'm not sure, but I think UF would have seen it as a means of shoring up the traditional family, which it hasn't tried to do to my knowledge.

stargazer said...

you're right anna. the FC has been very clear on supporting and strengthening all families, regardless of structure and the persons who make it up. it seems this inclusive approach doesn't sit well with UF policy positions. which puts them in a difficult position, because they can't say "scrap the famiilies commission" when it was their own idea.

The ex-expat said...

"informed consent" and "free consent" to current abortion laws

Gah! AKA we're going to make you sit through an ultrasound and show you pictures of fetus to show you what a horrible baby-murderer you are!

Anonymous said...

I don't think the party is refusing to have conscience votes - I saw him speaking a couple of weeks ago, and he's very very keen on the concept. He criticised other parties strongly for not having enough of them.

Perhaps it's just on these particular issues?

Anna said...

You could well be right, Anon. I wonder what they'd have conscience votes on, mind you. Their manifesto seems to be largely about the issues that most other parties would leave to conscience votes!

Hugh said...

I expect Copeland wants the best of both worlds. He doesn't want his fellow MPs (hopeful much?) to exercise their consciences, but he's more than happy for Labour or National MPs to defy their party whips on conscience issues where they would otherwise oppose him.

In other words, he's in favour of conscience votes for them, not for him.

muerk said...

I think an ultrasound prior to choosing an abortion is an excellent idea. The developmental level of the fetus is an objective fact, this way women can have the information to decide on aborting or not.

Provided the ultrasound is done with a non-emotive scientific attitude, I don't see it as leaning towards the "horrible baby-murderer" territory.

Alison said...

The developmental level of the fetus is an objective fact, this way women can have the information to decide on aborting or not

Really? I'd dispute that. It might look a bit like a baby in the fuzzy black and white profile of an u/s, but that's misleading since the fetus is far from having the capacities of a newborn, and for most people the u/s is completely unintelligible anyway, only translated through a technician. Those whose decision will be dependent on the developmental stage can get more information about it from reading, but for most women, the stage of development is actually completely irrelevant to the decision they need to make.

Alison said...

Hmm, on second thoughts, this probably isn't the thread for me to have disputed that at all, since the party's response didn't explicitly call for mandatory ultrasounds. Sorry for the discussion derailment!