Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Election Survey: Richard Wallis (Alliance)

Richard Wallis is the first candidate to get his response in from my old party, The Alliance. He's standing in Wellington Central and is number 5 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?
If pressed to identify a single issue that could be identified as the biggest issue facing women today I would have to say health. Women today do not have access to adequate health care. Because women continue to be paid much less than their male counterparts they do not have the same level of access to a health care system that should be free as of right.

An Alliance government would make healthcare free to everybody and increase expenditure in this area by some $1.4 billion dollars thereby making doctors visits and prescriptions free.

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?
A first step is raising the minimum wage to $17.00, this way those in traditionally low paid jobs (cleaners, care givers etc - roles traditionally held by women) will recieve a wage rise to a more acceptable level. That is the first step of many towards a society where gender based pay differentials become obsolete. Another step in the right direction would be to adopt the Alliance taxation plan where those on lower incomes actually get a decent tax cut, not just the crumbs from the tables of those already well off.

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... We support a status quo approach for abortion with the implimentation of the Abortion Supervisory Committee’s recommendation that all medical practitioners may become certifying consultants for termination purposes. We strive towards a society where abortion is no longer seen as necessary. With respect to reproductive rights we will put more resources towards public health initiatives such as sexual and reproductive health.

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.
(no answer given)

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?
I see the priority here being one of support. Governments should support these people. More can be done for the caregivers of New Zealand. As already identified we would raise the minimum wage, revamp the tax system, remove GST and make the first $10 000 of income tax free. We would also increase the government's investment in publicly funded caring institutions such as convalecence 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?
At the most basic level the government can pass laws reinforcing a woman's right to breast feed in public. A campaign based around raising people's awareness of the need to breast feed (aimed at the general public) would also help.

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?
Disband old boys networks opening up more opportunities for women to enter such roles.

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. At the most basic level all New Zealanders need to be paid a decent wage. Many incidents of domestic violence occur due to financial stresses. This means increasing not only the minimum wage but benefit levels as well. Greater control of where gambling machines can operate must be awared to local communities to prevent gambling addicitons from becoming prevelant in low income areas as they currently do.

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 removal of GST would be a first step towards lowering the cost of basic items such as food. Raising of benefit and wage levels as previously mentioned would also create greater access to good food.

Another step in the right direction would be to adopt the Alliance taxation plan where those on lower incomes actually get a decent tax cut, not just the crumbs from the tables of those already well off.

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.
Here is an extract from the Alliance website on women:


* The Alliance will extend pay equity to the private sector. Pay inequities will be reduced when we have free childcare and after-school care, and when the work that women commonly do is rewarded with decent pay.
* We will introduce 12 months’ paid parental leave for primary caregivers and two weeks’ paid parental leave for their partners.
* We recognise the contribution of women in unpaid work.
* We will introduce work–life balance provisions to address workers’ family responsibilities.
* We support more effective strategies and increased funding to protect women from violence.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Have a nice day.


Julie said...

Lots of people reading this, but no comments... That's a bit odd! Any lurkers care to share?

Anna said...

Thanks for your response, Richard. I've got a question! When a party is out of parliament, it's a whole different ball game, and the resources available to you are far fewer. What's the strategy for getting back in there? (I'm assuming that it's a medium or long term strategy!)

Kimberley said...

Not sure if I'm being fair, but tax cuts and the like pop up a little too often. I think the issue of caring work (Q5) needs something a bit more targetted.

I'm very pleased Richard Wallis took the time to respond. Wgtn Central is my patch, so this was of particular interest to me. Thank you, Hand Mirror!

richard mcgrath said...

Well done Richard, I think it's appalling that lower paid people (and in fact anyone) should have to pay income tax. I commend the Alliance on its policy of first $10k of income tax-free and GST scrapped. The Maori Party says first $25k tax free and Libertarianz say first $50k tax-free. Any major parties out there care to raise that?

richard mcgrath said...

Richard, I know the idea of a minimum wage might sound great, but it's economically unsound. If $17 an hour is such a good idea, why not $25? Why not $50 an hour?

The reson this would not be so good is because employers who are struggling under the burden of taxation and compliance, and especially those whose profits are declining, and whose future is uncertain, would hesitate to employ more staff and might lay staff off and/or shift their operation to where labour is cheaper (i.e. overseas).

Bottom line: Minimum wage laws have an adverse effect on employment prospects for the unskilled and young.