Friday, 17 October 2008

Election Survey: Green Party response to Q2 - 10

After some email discussion with the Greens, they have decided to submit a party response for questions 2 to 10, and individual candidates will make their own replies to questions 1 and 11. So here is the Green party response to questions 2 through 10, and I'll put up the individual candidate responses to 1 and 11 seperately (a post for each candidate). Sue Kedgeley has already submitted hers, so that'll go up later today.

The Questions & Answers
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?
We support the work that is taking place in the Pay and Employment Equity Taskforce and its Pay and Employment Equity Plan of Action. We want to see pay equity introduced first into the state sector, as we believe government should lead by example on equity. We would like to see unions including pay equity claims in their collective bargaining and a the definition of a good employer to include issues such as delivering equal pay for work of equal value.

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?
The Green Party wants to improve access to family planning and sexual health services and education to all women in New Zealand, especially young women, Maori and Pacific women and rural women. Every woman has a right to the information, education and resources to make the best possible decision about if and when to have a family. We also believe that mothers and fathers need adequate resources and support to raise their children. No one should feel forced to seek an abortion for fear that they cannot afford to feed, clothe, house and look after a child. We need to increase incomes and benefits and make sure safe and affordable housing is there for all those who need it.

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?
The Green Party wants to reduce the violence in our society and culture, and in particular the underlying causes of violence. All women have the right to safety at home, in schools, on the streets and in the workplace.

The most common forms of violence against women are domestic and sexual violence. We need to break the cycle of violence. We need to rebuild strong supportive communities and promote peaceful relationships right from the individual to the international level.

The Green Party will:
  • Increase educational and training programmes such as non-violent conflict resolution in schools for both boys and girls and require the mandatory attendance at (culturally appropriate) behaviour modification courses for men convicted of assault on women.

  • Require TVNZ, as a publicly funded channel, to take a lead in reducing the amount of violence on television by: developing guidelines on violence for producers and programmers; and not screening programmes that contain gratuitous violence before 10 oclock at night.

  • Ensure that sexual abuse prevention work is based on current research, primary prevention focussed, regularly reviewed and monitored, and provided widely.

We also need to challenge myths and stereotypes that create/reinforce a rape culture - the most recent ALAC advertisements being an example of State sponsored victim blaming.

The ‘It’s Not Okay’ campaign has been an important start, but the messaging across all departments and campaigns needs to be consistent.

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?
Carers and those working in the aged care and disability sector are amongst the poorest paid employees in New Zealand. We want pay equity for all workers in the aged care and disability sector. We want to see flexible working hours across the sector, so that women can have more flexibility about the hours they work and how they juggle family responsibilities.

We also want to see proper training for carers, paid for by employers, and mandatory staff to patient ratios in the sector, because at the moment many carers have unmanageable workloads, which is an ongoing source of stress.

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?
The Green Party is strongly committed to protecting and promoting breastfeeding, including giving legal protection to breastfeeding and ensuring workplaces make provision for it. Our paid parental leave policy extends paid parental to 13 months, in line with the Families Commission recommendations of September 2007, giving women time to breastfeed and ensuring children can have the best possible start to life.

We will also give legal force to the The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, to reduce the advertising of infant formulas. We will also fund education and support programmes for new mothers to encourage breastfeeding, improve resources and educational services for organisations that provide support for mothers who are breastfeeding.

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?
The Green party has the highest percentage of women MPs in Parliament –60%.

We have a guideline of at least 40% men and at least 40% women in any caucus that our party list would throw up, and we have a requirement that leadership positions in the party are held jointly by men and women –eg we have two Co-Leaders. We would like to see all parties have a similar guideline and a similar position on ensuring gender equity in their parties.

We hope that our commitment to gender equity and to participatory democracy, along with the values and principles of the Green party, will inspire young women to join the Green party and become active in it.

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) All New Zealanders.
If elected, what strategies would you like to pursue to eliminate domestic violence?
The Green Party has non-violence as one of our four founding charter principles. We believe that all Governments need to make an absolute commitment to reduce violence in our society and in our homes to ensure all women and children are safe from violence in their homes, as well as other places. To this end we will work to:
  • Fully resource and extend the Domestic Violence Act 1995 to ensure the intent of the law can be actualised. As the recent review of the Act showed, specific provisions need to be made to ensure the police can act more expediently to protect women and children, courts should be encouraged to provide reasons for declining ‘without notice” orders, and criminal courts should also consider whether to issue a protection order on behalf of a victim when sentencing a person for a domestic violence related offence.
  • Further strengthen training for those implementing the law; specifically lawyers, counsel for the child, judges and police.
  • Lower the costs of obtaining protection orders.
  • Provide victims of violence with free counselling and more support beyond what is currently available through ACC.
  • Increase education and training in schools around human rights, good relationship and parenting skills.
  • Harness our resources towards primary prevention as well as efforts to break the cycle and protect and support victims. This requires comprehensive social and economic policy advancement. See the range of our social policies here:
  • Currently women’s refuges are struggling with a massive increase in demand as a result of increased public awareness. While we applaud the recent Government moves to substantially increase funding to this sector we also need to ensure that the funding environment: recognises experienced providers, does not encourage duplication or a dilution of focus, actively encourages collaboration rather competition and protects or strengthens the autonomy and advocacy functions of the organisations.
The Green Party wants to reduce the violence in our society and culture, and in particular the underlying causes of violence. All women have the right to safety at home, in schools, on the streets and in the workplace.

The most common forms of violence against women are domestic and sexual violence. We need to break the cycle of violence. We are committed to rebuilding strong supportive communities and promoting peaceful relationships from the individual to the international level.

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)

The Green Party will support all parents, including single parents and sole income families, to make positive choices about staying at home, studying and / or working part or full-time, and be supported in their choices. We share the concerns of many that parenting is undervalued because it is not paid and is deemed not to contribute directly to GDP. We believe the best way to help parents get sufficient time with their children is to make sure they can afford not to be at work all the time and have the right to negotiate flexible hours if they do choose to be in paid employment. We will work towards this by extending Paid Parental Leave to 13 months, in line with the Families Commission recommendations of September 2007.

We will also introduce a Universal Child Benefit, and support serious investigation of the viability of a Universal Basic Income which recognises the value of caring for children, voluntary work, and would get rid of the shaming and blaming culture endemic in our current welfare system. Sue Kedgley’s Flexible Working Arrangements Act will give parents the right to negotiate with employers for a deal that allows them to better balance paid work and family responsibilities. We believe it should be possible for a family to survive on the equivalent of one full-time income and will continue to campaign for increases in the minimum wage and to vigorously defend the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

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?
The Green Party wants the minimum wage lifted to $15 an hour immediately, and benefits across the board lifted to levels people can actually live on. We support the introduction of a Universal Child Benefit, and the ending of the structural discrimination against beneficiaries contained in Working for Families.

We want to make the basics of life affordable, by introducing a $1 off peak fare for everyone on public transport, and by reducing power bills by insulating all homes in New Zealand. All of these initiatives will help ensure that people can afford to buy healthy food.

Earlier this year the Green Party launched a package of policies designed to ensure New Zealanders have access to affordable, healthy food. This included a Commerce Commission led Food Price Inquiry, to investigate food prices and the growing gap between what the farmer receives and what the consumer pays, and whether tougher competition law is needed to ensure consumers and farmers are treated fairly by supermarkets, and a farmer-to-consumer code of conduct for supermarkets. It also included a challenge to Fonterra to cap the cost of milk for New Zealanders and decouple it from the overseas influences that are pushing the prices up. The Green Party also supports a range of measures designed to help people grow their own food, including gardens and fruit trees in schools, as well as supporting local farmers and growers, and extending the fruit in schools programme to all primary schools.

The Green Party also supports a significant increase in social housing, as well as security of tenancy for those renting privately. This will give people certainty that they will be able to plant a garden and stay long enough to harvest the fruits of their labour. We need to increase acquisition and building of state housing units by at least 3000 units a year for the next 3 years and maintain an income related rental policy of 25% of income for Housing New Zealand Corporation tenants. In recent work around the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Green Party successfully negotiated a one billion dollar investment in insulation and clean heat for New Zealand homes. We are hopeful that this will lead to all our housing stock becoming warm and dry, with New Zealanders benefitting from better health and lower power bills.

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