Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Mt Albert By-Election Survey: Russel Norman (Greens)

The third response to our candidate survey for the Mt Albert by-election is from Green co-leader and MP, Russel Norman.

Candidate: Russel Norman
Party: Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Q: What particular issues do you believe women in Mt Albert face?
A: Mt Albert is a particularly diverse electorate, and so the issues facing Mt Albert women are also diverse. However, a few things stand out. Mt Albert residents are faced with horrendous traffic problems, being dissected by both a motorway and major arterial routes. These impacts are compounded for women who are often the primary childcarers. Mt Albert women who walk with their children rather than driving have to negotiate busy roads and intersections, and in places, poor pedestrian facilities. This is both unpleasant and unsafe, and is one of the reasons we are advocating major investment in public transport and pedestrian and cycling facilities, rather than a new motorway in Waterview. Mt Albert has a high migrant population, and there are real issues facing migrant woman in particular. Resettlement and integration into the community can be particularly tough on women, who may be isolated at home with children. The Green Party wants more resources put into settlement programmes for new migrants, including better provision of English language classes. Apart from these specific challenges, women in Mt Albert will also be facing the same issues as many other New Zealand women as they juggle work, family commitments, and community involvement. The Greens want to see the Flexible Working Hours Act extended to all workers. Women are also more likely to be over-represented in low income professions, and the Greens will continue to strive for pay equity for women in all sectors.

Q: How do you think women's representation could be preserved and/or enhanced if the proposed Auckland Super City proceeds?
A: The Greens are not necessarily opposed to the idea of one council for Auckland, as we see benefit in one council overseeing environmental and transport policy, as well as one district plan, one rates system and one rates bill. However, we are deeply concerned about the way in which this major reorganisation of Auckland’s governance has been imposed on Aucklanders with little or no consultation. There must be formal consultation with Aucklanders, as stipulated by the Local Government Act 2002, prior to any legislation on Auckland governance being agreed to. It is a fundamental right of democracy that any change to a system of governance should be agreed by the majority of those governed. We recognise that there are significant barriers to political participation for women as it is, but we feel that the proposed Super City structure will further exacerbate the concentration of power in rich, white men. Therefore, the Greens want to see the Mayor, City Councillors and Local Councillors elected by proportional representation (STV) in multi-councillor wards and multi-member Community Councils to ensure proportional and democratic representation, and better representation of women, ethnic groups and minorities. The number of Councillors should be increased for fairer representation, and there should be a minimum of three Maori seats on the Auckland Council. Secondly, we recognise that women and children in particular benefit from being represented by local councils who are actively engaged with and knowledgeable about their community, and who can provide relevant programmes and funding to achieve positive social outcomes. To this end we will advocate for more powers for Community Councils, and less for the Super Council. We will do everything we can in the Select Committee process to ensure Mt Albert women, men and children get fair consultation and stronger community representation.

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: This is needed more than ever, after the Government axed the Pay and Employment Equity Unit. The Green Party is completely dedicated to pay equity.

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 don’t think either of those options really represents my view. Clearly the status quo is very problematic. I’m also concerned that by completely reversing the burden of proof we could create new problems. I don’t think I have the answers on this issue and I am very open to listening to the views of those who have more expertise than I do. In relation to sexual violence the Green Party believes: 1. The research currently being undertaken into the causes of the low reporting of and conviction rates for rape and sexual assault is a priority and the outcomes must be acted on as a matter of urgency. 2. Support services for victims are doing a wonderful job but are still under-resourced and lacking the ability to advocate freely. We need to review funding structures in this area to remove barriers and assist the organisations to provide a strong voice for victims and the required social change. 3. In terms of reducing the incidence of rape and sexual assaults we need to ensure that education work is based on current research, primary prevention focussed, regularly reviewed and monitored, and provided widely. 4. We also need to challenge myths and stereotypes that create/reinforce a rape culture - the most recent ALAC advertisements being an example of State-sponsored victim blaming.

Should access to abortion be:
Abolished OR Restricted OR Continued as currently provided OR Increased to on demand
Candidate comment: I’m pro-choice, and it’s got to be a real choice, not one forced because of either hardship on the one hand, or lack of access abortion services on the other. I hope that the option I’ve highlighted is the one which best reflects this view. The Green Party believes we need to improve access to family planning and sexual health services and education to all women in New Zealand, especially young women, Maori and Pacific women and rural women. Every woman has a right to the information, education and resources to make the best possible decision about if and when to have a family. We also believe that mothers and fathers need adequate resources and support to raise their children. We believe that no one should feel forced to seek an abortion for fear that they cannot afford to feed, clothe, house and look after a child. We need to increase incomes and benefits and make sure safe and affordable housing is there for all those who need it.

Should paid parental leave be:
Abolished OR Decreased OR Continued at the current level OR Increased

In the forthcoming Child Discipline referendum New Zealanders should:
Vote Yes OR Vote No or Abstain

Pay Equity measures by Government are:
Necessary OR Unnecessary

Social change advertising campaigns, such as It's Not Ok, should be:
Abolished OR Decreased OR Continued at the current level OR Increased


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Great to see candidates making time in the busy last week to respond to our survey. There'll be another one up later today too!

3 comments:

Alison said...

So happy to see an MP say this;

Every woman has a right to the information, education and resources to make the best possible decision about if and when to have a family. [emphasis mine]

So much of our discussion about abortion gets framed in terms of women having abortions because it's "not the right time", when in fact, it goes right to the heart of whether women want, or feel equipped to be parents at all, ever. The idea that a woman should be celibate her entire life to avoid pregnancy, even in a committed child-free-by-choice relationship just seems unreasonably normative. There is just such a perception that abortion is a means to delay a family, rather than to avoid a family altogether, or stop a family getting larger.

Hugh said...

Kind of annoyed by this:

The research currently being undertaken into the causes of the low reporting of and conviction rates for rape and sexual assault is a priority and the outcomes must be acted on as a matter of urgency.

This is pretty disingenous. The causes of rape and the way it's easy for men to rape are not some big mystery which will only be revealed by research done currently. There's been an enormous body of research on rape - even within the NZ context - and any research currently being done will only confirm what we already know.

In other words, this seems like a major dodge to me, and it has to be read in line with his refusal to commit to one model of proving consent or the other.

Alison said...

D'oh. I just realised I emphasised the "when" when I meant to emphasise the "if". Way to shoot my own point down...