Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Election Survey: Vanessa Roberts (UnitedFuture)

Vanessa Roberts is UnitedFuture's candidate for the seat of Wigram, and is ranked at 14 on the UnitedFuture party list. Below: her responses. Over here: a full index of all candidate responses to date, including several others from UF candidates.

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 do not beleive there is ever one issue. I do beleive that women caring for young families and trying to work in paid employment as well often experince a lot of stress. To address this a fairer tax system with voluntary income splitting would relieve some of the financial pressure and allow more women the choice of not working or working less and spending more time with their
children. More flexible working hours would also assist this. Another biggy is for women to feel safe when out in the community and in their own homes.

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?
Many women work in the caring professions or in unskilled jobs. Raising the minimum wage would assist this and UnitedFuture's policy of carers salaries being $18 per hour at least would also lift this average wage. Providing more flexible work hours and facilitating women staying in the work force and advancing their careers would also benefit the salary rates.

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 beleive that abortion should be safe and rare. I would tighten the criteria for abortion. I would not allow young women to undergo abortions at the age of 16 without parental consent, given that for any other medical proceedure they would require parental consent until age 18. I would monitor the effectiveness of, and change the current contraceptive education in schools as it is not working to reduce our rate of teen pregnancy or STD's. I would like to see a variety of programmes in schools catering for as wide a range of beliefs, with parents given the choice of which one their child would attend.

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.
I do not think it is correct to say the police and the courts do not work in preventing violence against women. What I do think we can say is that there is still too much violence in society as a whole and that the measures we take so far have not had sufficient effect in reducing or eliminating this. UnitedFuture has a comprehensive justice policy with key aspects: victim
compensation, neighbourhood beat cops, a "no crime is too small" approach to reporting, improved laiason between social service and child protection agencies and the police in order to have a greater impact on domestic violence and child abuse.... There is much more.

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?
Please see my response to question 2. Our cummunity policy looks at acknowledging the work of the volunteer sector also.

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?
As far ass I know we do not have apolicy specifically about breast feeding. However, we do support parents being able to raise their children and spend time with their children. We also believe in supporting community groups and NGO's in helping parents in all aspects of parenthood including breast feeding.

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?
(no answer given)

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)
All New Zealanders
If elected, what strategies would you like to pursue to eliminate domestic violence?
See question 4

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 but a qualified 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?
The cost of food should not be bourne by women. If they are feeding a family then there should be two adults supporting that family, whether both live in the same house or not. What is good for everyone is good for women. Ensure we have safe food supplied as locally as possible at the most affordable price for both he suppplier and the purchaser.

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 beleive that society works best when people are able to contribute in their strengths to the maximum of their abilities. Usually we enjoy participating in the things we are good at. For women (or men for that matter) it is important that we are valued for the contribution we make. Whether it is at home in an unpaid capacity or out in the workforce; whether it is parent helping at a school or preschool, or driving the children in a car pool to sports practice; whether it is coaching a sports team or winning olympic gold; whether it is in the board room or at the check out; everyone needs to feel valued. UnitedFuture's policies reflect these ideals. Check it out.


The ex-expat said...

With regards to number 3, apparently the age of medical consent is actually 18. I find the parental consent laws a difficult one. The problem is that teens don't need to gain parental consent to get pregnant nor presumably to ante-natal care either. Seems like a bit of double standard to say no if she doesn't want to end it. I'd also be concerned that a law such as this would discourage young women from getting help.

Anna said...

There's a lot about Vanessa's answers I like, particularly the work/life balance comments, and the stuff about paid carers and supporting volunteers.

I can't agree with the parental consent for abortion thing, though. If a young woman feels she can't tell her parents she's pregnant, there's a reason for that. Clearly, the relationship is such that the child doesn't feel the parents will react in a constructive way. If this is the case, it seems a bit off to give the parents control over what the girl can do with her body. And the idea of being forced to go through pregnancy by your parents is revolting.

As I understand it (and I could be wrong), having a termination comes with the option of seeking counseling, including counseling about alternatives to termination?

The ex-expat said...

Actually at most places counseling isn't an option, it's a requirement.

Kimberley said...

RE: 3. I don't see how this wide variety of sex ed programmes would be feasible or useful. But I'm glad she at least mentioned sex ed.

I liked the answer to 11, people feeling valued is indeed very important and that's not something that can be achieved by money alone.

Anonymous said...

re:3 sounds like a way for parents to opt for their children to get abstinence only education.