Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Mt Albert By-election Survey: David Shearer (Labour)

The second response to our candidate survey for the Mt Albert by-election is from Labour's candidate for the seat, David Shearer. We have several more yet to come, sorry I have dropped the ball on this folks; I simply haven't had much blog time in the last three weeks.

Candidate: David Shearer
Party: NZ Labour Party

Q: What particular issues do you believe women in Mt Albert face?
A: Women come from many different groups – with different issues: For many professional women the gender pay gap is a constant problem which the National Government has made worse by backtracking on all of the previous Labour Government’s initiatives to fix – such as canning the Pay & Employment Equity Unit that was undertaking reviews in the public service. Not a good omen six-months into this new administration. One issue I keep encountering on the campaign trail from stay-at-home mums is the effect of rising household costs on families. This results in some women having to make choices for their family not on what they need but on what they can afford. What’s more, in a downturn women are more likely to have to take up multiple jobs which can decrease the amount of time they would otherwise choose to spend with their families. Rising unemployment will also impact on the choices women can afford or not afford to make. Mt Albert is also a very ethnically diverse electorate. 15.4% of residents are Pacific peoples, 24.1% are Asian, 2.3% are from Middle Eastern/Latin American/African backgrounds. The women from these communities often face unique cultural challenges. I note this blog has outlined current problems with dowry abuse and share that issue of concern. Other issues such as employment rights, family violence and isolation are also factors for women in the electorate. I am really proud that it was a Labour government that introduced a Domestic Violence policy for non-residents within the NZ Immigration Programme. I think it is time to update that policy now that it has been in place for a few years and I will be advocating for that.

Q: How do you think women's representation could be preserved and/or enhanced if the proposed Auckland Super City proceeds?
A: I think that is going to be a major challenge if the government's proposals are implemented. The centre-left has always stood strong women candidates on their tickets. So, the most important thing we can do is get organised around a progressive ticket with an inclusive vision for Auckland. Having a ward system, which I favour, however ensures people are elected locally and means more women are likely to be elected to the Auckland Council. We need to scrap the ‘at-large’ councillors who, because they would need to be elected from across the city, are more likely to be the wealthy or well known. Let’s be realistic – the cost of simply putting a leaflet out to all voters across the city will be prohibitive for most people who want to represent their community. Labour is also pushing for adequate consultation (not the ramming through of Rodney Hide’s changes) and a referendum so Aucklanders can have a say.

Multi-choice questions (candidate's answer is in bold):
Should the Ministry of Women's Affairs be:
Abolished OR Decreased OR Continued at the current level OR Increased
Candidate comment: The Ministry of Woman’s Affairs provides an important source of advice and analysis for all levels of government. It is the only section of government that ensures gender analysis is taken into account when considering policy or the impact of legislation. The Ministry of Woman’s Affairs is currently undertaking important work on domestic violence and sexual violence which I hope will inform policy development in the future. We are still somewhere off the goal of having 50% female representation by 2010 on all public sector boards but have done well increasing the percentage in recently years – however there is some way to go in the private sectors.

In considering allegations of rape the law should:
Require the defendant to prove sex was consensual OR require the victim to disprove sex was consensual (status quo) (no option chosen)
Candidate comment: I believe this issue should be looked at by a select committee so am not comfortable offering an opinion at this stage. However I think there is a huge issue with the ability of women to bring rape cases to the court – as evidenced by the very low conviction rate. I would note that the last Labour Government removed the automatic right of defendants to cross examine the plaintiff, which was a positive step forward. As I have previously said, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is doing some good work looking at sexual violence issues and I hope this work will inform any policy development.

Should access to abortion be:
Abolished OR Restricted OR Continued as currently provided OR Increased to on demand (no option chosen)
Candidate comment: I don’t believe your suggested answers are adequate. I personally believe the law should be amended because I believe a women’s decision should be between her and her doctor (on-demand is not how many people talk about abortions – no one demands an abortion). We should focus on making the procedure safe, legal and rare.

Should paid parental leave be:
Abolished OR Decreased OR Continued at the current level OR Increased
Candidate comment: Increased. Labour believes in increasing this entitlement as resources allow.

In the forthcoming Child Discipline referendum New Zealanders should:
Vote Yes OR Vote No or Abstain (no option chosen)
Candidate comment: Labour doesn’t believe in telling people how to vote in this referendum. We think the policy is currently working well. I do think the referendum question has been asked in a misleading manner.

Pay Equity measures by Government are:
Necessary OR Unnecessary
Candidate comment: Necessary. As I said before it was disappointing to see National scrap the Pay & Employment Equity Unit.

Social change advertising campaigns, such as It's Not Ok, should be:
Abolished OR Decreased OR Continued at the current level OR Increased
Candidate comment: Continued – depends on the efficacy of the campaign. It’s not OK has been fantastic at raising awareness of family violence and is a model for how these campaigns can work, reporting has increased

It's heartening to get a response from the current fore-runner for the seat. No response from Melissa Lee yet, but we do have one from Russel Norman which I'll put up tomorrow. Act's John Boscawen has promised one as have a few others, and I'm hoping to follow them up tonight.


Hugh said...

"Safe, legal and rare"

The Clinton formula, I believe.

katy said...

nice responses!

Tui said...

Nice to see a token attempt to actually read the blog, too!

Julie said...

Sorry I originally stuffed up the layout of this and I still can't get it to fold properly so I've given up and have put the whole thing on the front page.

Maia said...

Hugh - I hate that formulation so much. You don't win hearts and minds by being pious and mealy mouthed.

And as for his idea that pay equity is a professional women's issue - that makes me so angry I think I'm going to have to write a blogpost about it.

Hugh said...

I'm not fond of it either Maia. When I compare a politician, particularly a self-proclaimed leftist, to Bill Clinton it's almost never a compliment.