Thursday, 16 October 2008

Election Survey: Hamish McCracken (Labour)

Hamish McCracken is the Labour candidate for Northcote, and number 50 on the Labour party list. Other Labour candidate responses to date: Jordan Carter and Paul Chalmers.

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

I don't like "single biggest problem" type questions as they imply some kind of easy ranking system, as a bloke I don't think I'm very well qualified to make a call like that anyway. What I would say is that violence in the home is clearly huge issue for women. Education campaigns like It's not OK are useful (National opposed it) but we also need to increase on the ground initiatives and in an increasingly diverse society this means working with NGO's like Shakti on a range of culturally appropriate initiatives as well as those targeted at middle NZ.

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?
I am currently on (unpaid) parental leave having split this with my partner, one aspect of the pay gap is that my situation is still a little unusual and that most families break down on a more traditional line when it comes to child care. To counter balance this we need alongside paid parental leave (which I think should be extended) programmes that help parents reintegrate with the workforce and allow more flexible workplace options. The flexible working hours introduced recently is a good step in this direction. Currently ACC reward companies with good practices regarding health and satefy. I think that there is scope for the government to offer similiar incentives for things like family friendly workplaces.

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?

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've already gone here to an extent. At a micro level education (about and against violence) is important, at a macro level there is nothing like prosperity to reduce (not eliminate) domestic violence.

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?
For those who are paid continued increases in minimum wages and an employment relations environment that fostors constructive bargaining.

For those who are unpaid, financial recognition would be nice but increased respite care might be a more immediate and achievable priority.

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?
Encourage urban and commercial environments that provide space for this.

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?
I think this is better answered by women candidates, I'll come back to your survey and see what they say.

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?
All. As stated above education campaigns and cooperation with a range of NGO's I think offers the best opportunity to create a range of appropriate responses.

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)

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?
Operating as we do in an international market we are to an extent governed by international prices, so I think the increased cost of living is not something we can deal with by looking at prices, it is something we can deal with only by looking at incomes. At risk of running through the whole Labour manifesto at this point that means investment in education, skills training, research and development, support for business and particularly in labour intensive and/or high skill high wage industries. It also means ensuring that people in retirement will have sufficient income to experience a good living standard.

Question 11 (the catch-all) - no answer given.

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