Peter McCaffrey is Act's candidate for the seat of Otaki, and number 43 on the Act Party list. His response to our survey can be found below, and an index of all the responses to date can be found 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?
I think the issues affecting a person (man or woman) depend on who they are, what they value and their own personal beliefs and circumstances. I would not be so arrogant as to think I could speak on behalf of New Zealand women, or anyone else.
Surveys show that the most common issue people are worried about at the moment is the economy and ACT has good, detailed policy in this area.
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 expect most of this difference is caused by women choosing to work fewer hours or remain at home completely to spend more time with children.
However I believe that everyone should be paid what they are worth, and I believe that women are worth just as much as men.
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?
I see the debate around abortion as being a scientific issue of determining when life begins, not a moral issue.
Not being a scientist, or a parent, I don't feel fully qualified to comment on the issue.
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 police and courts are currently not very successful at preventing violence against anyone.
ACT has tough Law and Order policies to combat crime and protect the public.
Regarding domestic violence specifically, one of the most common factors is poverty.
ACT's long term plans to fix New Zealand's economy will hopefully help in this area.
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?
Those caring for the sick and elderly and teaching the children are most commonly employed by the state.
The state is a near-monopoly provider of employment in the health and education sectors, meaning the low wages are unsurprising.
Parents looking after children have made the choice to have children.
I don't believe people should choose to have children until they are able to properly support them.
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?
I am not a scientist or an employment law specialist, so don't believe I can sufficiently answer this question.
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?
Treat everyone as an individual, not attempt to fit them into pre-determined groups (like 'young women').
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 New Zealanders.
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)
No, there should be limits on the availability of benefits.
Leaving the decision of when it is best to go back to work, to the individual receiving the benefit, is an invitation to exploit the benefit and drain resources from people who may be in much more need of them.
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?
I find this a ridiculous question.
Women may do the vast majority of cooking and shopping for a family, but in this case the finances are usually shared between spouses.
You could equally have asked what the government would do to help men who bear the cost of increasing petrol prices, as they do the vast majority of driving to work.
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.
I repeat that I believe that we should treat everyone as an individual, not attempt to fit them into pre-determined groups.
Women should be free to live their lives as they see fit. As should men.