Sunday, 26 October 2008

Election Survey: Matthew Stephen (Alliance)

Matthew Stephen is standing for the Alliance as a list only candidate, and is number 18 on the Alliance party list. While his reply to our survey can be found below, you can find a full index of all candidate responses to date over here.

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?
One of the most significant and ingrained issues is that the overwhelming majority of unpaid work in New Zealand society is performed by women. While most men are engaged in work in exchange for a wage, many of the tasks that women perform are not paid at all, even though they contribute equally to social wellbeing. Unpaid labour amounts to around 40 percent of GDP (Stats NZ). It is important to note that this amounts to a subsidy for employers, as the workers they hire are assisted in innumerable ways by (unpaid) work performed by women.

We could work towards eliminating this inequality through things like a universal child benefit paid to women, free universal childcare, better paid parental leave, legal protections for work-life balance concerns, and most of all, getting men to do more work around the house!

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?
First step: extend pay equity to the private sector. Then, we can really get stuck in.

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?
Yes. But all healthcare and prescriptions (including contraception) should be state-funded so women don't have to pay.

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.
Violence against women is a social disease and law enforcement is very much the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We would like to see a society where everyone is in meaningful work and can live with economic security. We also support better funding to protect women from 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?
Further to the points from question one, raising the minimum wage to $17 hour, and introducing a 35 hour working week without loss of pay. Compulsory overtime rates.

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?
We want 12 months paid parental leave and free doctor visits, which would help. Also reinforce the right of women to breastfeed in public spaces.

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?
We need as many people as possible to be involved in the public sphere. We should engender a society in which people are able to fully participate in political organisations regardless of gender. Of course women won't necessarily represent women's interests, e.g. Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan, etc.

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?
It's an issue that involves everyone, although women tend to be the victims. Violence is damaging to all involved. See question four.

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. Emphatically.

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?
Immediately remove GST from food, as a first step to eliminating it altogether. Better wages and hours so people can afford decent food and have time to cook and enjoy it. Free school meals for children.

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.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

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