Thursday, 16 October 2008

Election Survey: Kay Murray (Alliance)

Another response from an Alliance candidate, this time from co-leader Kay Murray, who is standing in Dunedin South and is number 1 on the Alliance Party list. The other Alliance candidate response published to date has been from Richard Wallis.

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?
Child poverty. Women bear the brunt of child poverty in New Zealand. It is generally women who are trying to feed and clothe children, put a roof over their heads, find the money for school trips etc. Often they are doing this while working long hours in low paid jobs.

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 (the Alliance) propose to raise the minimum wage to $17 per hour. The lowest paid jobs are mostly in the caring sector – caring for the elderly, people with disabilities, children. Government funding is the sole source of income for most of the employers in this sector. We would fund these services at a realistic level and insist that staff were paid an adequate wage. We
would not tolerate private providers using government funding to increase their profits and dividends to shareholders as is happening at present.

Question 3. Do you think NZ's current approach to reproductive rights (abortion, contraception etc) is correct? (Yes or No or No Answer, please)
Pretty much
If not, what changes would you want to make?
We would make all contraception free and the doctors visits to obtain 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 Alliance believes that social issues must be addressed to reduce violence against women.
Well paid work, free education and healthcare, adequate housing, access to free childcare, including afterschool and holiday care, would reduce the stresses on families that often lead to violence. The Alliance would also ensure that help for people with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions is readily available and easily accessible and provide effective and mental health services that emphasize preventative measures and maintaining wellbeing rather than just
providing acute care

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?
More money in the form of adequate wages and sufficient numbers of staff to provide quality care. And decent nationally recognized training for carers at all levels. Quite frankly the attitude
of both MP’s and staff in government departments funding care work is often deplorable. I work in this area and we were told, not too many years ago, by a senior government dept staffer that our sector (day service providers in the disability sector) didn’t need any more money because if they gave it to us we’d just give our staff pay rises! They make the right noises and make a few token gestures, but when it comes down to it they don’t rate these sectors enough to do anything
major to deal with the issues. These are, as I said earlier, government funded areas. The responsibility for the state of these sectors rests fairly and squarely with the politicians.

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?
One year’s paid maternity leave would help. It’s very difficult to work and breastfeed I know
because I have attempted to do this. It really only works for professional women whose work is flexible enough to allow them to do things like build nurseries adjacent to their offices and stop work to feed their babies on demand and employ nannies to look after them the rest of the time. Having on site crèches is only feasible in large organizations.

Greater flexibility in allowing part time work would also help and additional sick leave is necessary because babies get sick a lot, especially in day care facilities where they are exposed to lots of colds and flu.

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? More high ranking women MP’s. Labour, the Greens, the Maori party and the Alliance are doing all right but the rest are woeful.

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)
For all New Zealanders
If elected, what strategies would you like to pursue to eliminate domestic violence?
The Alliance believes that social issues must be addressed to reduce violence against women. Well paid work, free education and healthcare, adequate housing, access to free childcare, including afte rschool and holiday care, would reduce the stresses on families that often lead to violence. The Alliance would also ensure that help for people with drug, alcohol and gambling
addictions is readily available and easily accessible and provide effective and mental health services that emphasize preventative measures and maintaining wellbeing rather than just providing acute care

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

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?
Ensure that everyone has a liveable wage or benefit. Remove GST on food. The Alliance
also proposes a universal child allowance of $16 per week per child. We would also provide tax breaks for low income earners and make the first $10,000 of income tax free.

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.
(no answer given)

6 comments:

Anna said...

Completely agree about the issues in the caregiving sector. The model whereby taxpayer funding is used to push up wages in private enterprises is ethically awful (I think) as well as being ultimately unworkable.

There are some serious issues in the caregivers workforce. Lip service is paid to the upskilling of workers (and it's great to give these workers educational opportunities), but unless there's a change in remuneration, upskilled workers will simply take their skills to a new area of the workforce which pays properly.

Hugh said...

Women bear the brunt of child poverty in New Zealand.

This statement is weird to me. I can think of two possible ways to interpret it.

One is that female children are more likely to experience poverty than male children. True, but the word 'women' is weird.

The other is that this is intended as part of the same statement she makes in her next sentence, with "It is generally women who are trying to feed and clothe children..." While, again, this is true, I wouldn't call that 'bearing the brunt' of child poverty.

I'd say that the people who bear the brunt of child poverty are the children.

Anna said...

Perhaps women bear more of the responsibility for trying to mitigate/manage child poverty?

Hugh said...

That's precisely what I'm getting at, Anna, but to me that doesn't equate with 'bearing the brunt'. It would be rather like saying that farmers bear the brunt of infectious diseases in cattle, when actually, the cattle do.

Just a semantic quibble I know, but semantics can be quite important in electoral campaigns.

Andrew said...

Quite a pointless semantic quibble, I would've thought. It's not like it's not patently clear what Kay was referring to.

Hugh said...

Well, it's not clear to me. But YMMV.