Saturday, 18 October 2008

Election Survey: Quentin Findlay (Alliance)

Here's the survey response from Quentin Findlay, a list only candidate for the Alliance, who is ranked at no. 23 on the Alliance party list.

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?

The disparity between males and females in society and the promotion of equality in education, healthcare, the workplace and the general economy

The implementation of policies which promotes a society which encourages and values people by implementing free universal healthcare and education at all levels, full employment and secure and comprehensive employment rights, and an economy that is ecologically and democratically just.

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?
Raising the minimum wage to $17.00, those in low paid jobs (cleaners, care givers etc – which are roles traditionally held by women) will receive a wage increase; such an increase would also have a flow on effect to other wages and salaries. The Alliance would also introduce equal pay legislation into the private sector to help halt the discrimination that low paid workers receive in that area. The Alliance also believes in a progressive tax system, this means that low income people pay less (the first 10 000 of a person’s income would not be taxed), while those on higher incomes paid more.

The Alliance would also ensure more stringent legislation governing employment laws to protect low income workers.

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?
There should be greater choice by women in terms of abortion; however the need for abortions should be (could be) reduced by ensuring that there is compulsory sex education in schools. Contraception should be freely available.

An Alliance government would make healthcare free as well as increasing expenditure in this area by some $1.4 billion dollars, making doctors visits and prescriptions free.

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 supports more effective strategies and increased funding to protect women from violence. I believe that this support extends to more stringent enforcement of protection orders by the Courts and the police and the greater funding of public education campaigns. Seminars which target and identify and seek to eliminate abuse should be promoted in schools and the workplace in both the public and private sectors. (The education of some judges in terms of protection orders would not go amiss either.)

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?
The recognition of the rights of casual workers in employment law, through the design of more stringent and comprehensive employment (and associated) laws which guarantee base working conditions and rights, such as a 35 hour week, guaranteed minimum wage of $17 per hour for low income workers, 12 months’ paid parental leave for primary caregivers and two weeks’ paid parental leave for their partners, and the extension of equal pay legislation. In addition, the Alliance would (re) introduce a Universal Child Allowance, and increase benefits (restoring them in real terms to their 1991 levels).

The Alliance would also increase investment in publicly funded caring institutions such as convalescence homes and early childhood centres.

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?
By encouraging the right of women to breastfeed through the use of various public and education campaigns as well as legislating for the right of women to breast feed in public

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 success of the new right over the past 20 years has effectively disempowered people, especially women. The state and the community need to actively promote participation by people in all facets of society from schools, to universities and into the workplace and the economy. While, partially, this disempowerment can be halted by improving women’s access to education and healthcare and ensuring pay equality, ultimately, it means the examination of how people can participate in society, which might mean the introduction of reforms or laws which promoted more democratic participation in both the public and private spheres.

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 is an issue that affects all New Zealanders. The Government needs to pursue active campaigns against legalised gambling, alcohol and smoking which are designed to reduce or eliminate their hold over society. There also needs to be a greater awareness by some in society that abuse does not happen simply in low income areas, but is spread across society and that it should not be tolerated. Public campaigns and seminars which target and identify abuse should be promoted in schools and the workplace in both the public and private sectors, should be promoted.

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?
The abolition of GST and other indirect taxes which disadvantage low and middle income earners and their replacement with a progressive tax system would increase the amount of money to low income earners; the restoration of a Universal Child benefit and an increase in wages and salaries; the introduction of a free school meals programme for all school age children; and the exploration of price controls on basic food items such as bread, cheese, milk and vegetables to ensure that all people have access to good staple food. (There is a real failure of the market in this area, which has allowed some people in to get rich at the expense of the majority of others).

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 am a socialist and as a socialist I believe in the equality of all. No community can benefit if one section of the community is being actively (or passively) discriminated against.

Presently, women are still being discriminated against, and while it might appear that there have been improvements in their positions (which there have) there remains active discrimination by public and private agencies against them. There needs to be an active approach by Government and community organisations to ensure that equality is achieved.

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