Saturday, 24 September 2011

Women's Choice 2011 - Suffrage eve debate follow up.

cross posted from my place.
A review of the questions and answers.

On Thursday the 22nd of September the Women's Choice 2011 Suffrage Eve Debate took place in an Auckland university lecture theatre with a wonderful mix of over 100 attendees. A speech was given by Dr Judy McGregor, the EEO Commissioner, who did a wonderful job of chairing the evening.

The party reps were:
National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
ACT - Kath McCabe
Mana - Sue Bradford

Three minute stump speeches from each party, were given followed by written questions from a variety of women's organisations, as follows.

NB: I was trying to scribe this with no skills in shorthand, and didn’t do the greatest job. (partly because some pages were smudged with tears of laughter from a very entertaining evening!)
My apologies for any mistakes. The below is paraphrasing of key points as I could catch them, and sometimes it was a bit of a challenge!! If I have missed something or made mistakes, please feel free to email me with changes and I will update this ASAP
I hope you enjoy this review.
Scuba Nurse.

Q From the Campus Feminist Collective
What are the parties doing to empower people who are struggling financially, such as single parents on the DPB, to attain qualifications that will allow them to support themselves and their families? An example of such a a measure would be the discontinued training incentive allowance.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Support for life- long learning.
Does not agree with cuts to education for those over a certain age.
The access for older people in training needs to be reviewed.
Restore funding for the training incentive allowance.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
This is an attack on beneficiaries, stop this.
Being a sole parent is doing a job twice and people should have enough money to live on and get training.
Raise the status and value of the parent and sole parent.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Mana is respectful of training.
Reinstate the training incentive allowance.
Lower tertiary fees
Lower student loans
Total overhaul of the benefits system is needed
Universal tax credits.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Why has the quality of education gone down? (Audience member called out “It hasn’t!”)
Funding is going to the wrong end: funding is being spent on student loans not the education providers.
Need to review student allowances
Close to the maori party on some points here.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Values education as a liberator
Early childcare available for those who need to get back to school/ work. Especially in areas where attendance is low
Training incentive allowance Level Four National Qualifications Framework courses or above no longer applies.
Focusing on basic numeracy and literacy as a focus.
Student support as a priority.

Q From the Working women’s resource center.
What will your party do to improve the working situation of women who are forced into casual and/or contract work rather than proper employment and who don’t get sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave, professional development or job security.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Collective bargaining is essential.
Unions have been undermined by national.
Committed to do everything they can.
The right to strike returned to workers.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
This type of work is becoming prominent, and this is deliberate.
We need to increase rights to strengthen collective bargaining.
The reason women are concentrated in a precarious environment is because they have to seek flexibility to care for families.
Flexible working arrangements to help families would go a long way.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
The root of the issues is contracts. They are very bad for women.
Monitoring of women’s work situations is needed.
Collective bargaining should be improved
Equal pay
Not being allowed to discuss contracts means that inequalities continue without question.
Used the example of warner brothers.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Not sure that people are *forced* into casual and contract work.
People choose their work places and plenty of people don’t get sick or holiday pay – they are self-employed.
Used the building industry, and low work levels for said builders as an example of the above.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
The 90 day trial is helping with this. Migrants and youth and parents are positively affected.
Most people who get jobs retain them, it is working well.
It gives women a chance

Q From the Women’s health action trust.
The government currently has an amending bill in the house which aims to relax the provisions of the 2008 employment relations (breaks, infant feeding, and other matters) amendment act which required employers to provide breaks and facilities (where reasonable and practicable) to support women to breast feed while employed.
What is your party’s position on this?

ACT - Kath McCabe
The key here is “where reasonable and practicable”. Few women are making the hard vocational choices.
Her company has just hired large numbers of international engineers because "New Zealanders won’t take the hard jobs".
Dirty, filthy industrial sites are not appropriate for breast feeding, and women wouldn’t want to feed there.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Under current law, mothers have the right to ask, and the employer must respond in a timely fashion.
If not, action can be taken.

Mana - Sue Bradford
The mana party would not support any weakening of the current laws.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
"If we are going to discuss dirty high paid jobs, what about parliament?"
One woman breast fed there.
When we talk about support and what is reasonable and practicable, it needs to be what is reasonable and practicable for the BABY not others.
The problem is workplace leaders who don’t have tits and want to make a profit.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Thought amendment being referred to is about workers breaks, rather than specifically breast feeding breaks, but unsure.
Women have kids, and would like to breast feed. We need to support this.
Clean up the workplace and make it safe, for EVERYONE, including breastfeeding mothers.

Q From the YWCA
How will you recognise and address disadvantages faced by our Māori communities’ especially young Māori women?

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Recognises gender and ethnic issues.
Policies need to recognise different needs.
When you break down the wage gap beyond simply gender, into ethnicity the disparity for Maori and Pacific island women becomes even more graphic

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
“Honour the treaty, don’t call me sweety”
Women are discriminated against in the system.
Address the issues and listen to tangatawhenua to ask what THEY want rather than having policy makers who are removed from the issues telling them what to do.
Go to the Hapu and Iwi to consult.

Mana - Sue Bradford
This is a huge problem and the whole of Mana’s policies are focused in these areas.
Respect and self determination
Education gives women a place in the world.
People need wages to live on and should not be separated from their home communities because the system said they cannot return.
Empowerment is key.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Referenced the whanau ora policy.
Additional money is needed for additional providers.
Money has been reprioritised for sexual health, teen pregnancy etc.
On the recent media interest in Sex ed, having viewed providers, they were professional and innovative, with accurate info.

ACT - Kath McCabe
"Jackie covered most of it."
Upset by the way young Māori women are characterised by this question.
I know highly regarded women from the Māori community, (gave examples of many high powered roles)
Successful Māori are not celebrated.

Our 36 year old abortion laws are medically outdated, what action would you like to take to reform the law?

ACT - Kath McCabe
Personally supports decriminalisation.
It will be a conscience vote, and my choice is that it should remain a personal choice.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
As a former GP she helped many women decide what to do, no one does it lightly, it is a difficult decision.
Supports it being in the health act
Abortion is the choice of a woman and her health provider.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
There should be a review, there is currently no Green party consensus.
Personally believes it is a health issue, not a criminal one.
Working on a Green party agreement.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Supports the women’s right to choose.
Safe abortions are currently available but she strongly supports change to the current law which only provides safe abortions to those who are having to work with an unwealdy system, having to lie about their mental health.
Community clamour is needed for this to be reviewed.
Keep pushing for change.

Mana - Sue Bradford
There is no party agreement but she is personally pro-choice.
There is more support needed for pre and post counselling as there is not enough support for women who make that choice and have to go through such a hard time.

Q From the National council of women’s Auckland branch
What is your party’s strategy to reduce increasing poverty in NZ and to close the ever widening gap between rich and poor?

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
Not with tax cuts for the top 13% or financial bail outs for Canterbury finance that is for sure.
Commitment is needed
Work on the welfare system
Increase minimum wage
Job creation and quality education

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
This is of vital importance for a fairer society
The gap is growing, there are kids in poverty.
Need to lift minimum wage
Take GST off fruit and vegetables.
1st $5 earned should be tax free
More collective bargaining
Putting funds into research and development and increasing jobs.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Economic justice to lift the income of those at the bottom.
Tax free income threshold for those below the minimum wage
One off hardship benefit by Christmas, which Kevin Rudd did in Australia
Trust routs need to be tackled – the rich are hiding income.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Getting those back to work who can work.
Off benefits and back to work
Lift wages and increase economy
Want to keep entrepreneurs and companies here in NZ – supporting businesses.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Recognise that welfare is not for the upper and middle class.
Gave an anecdote of a wealthy family receiving money from “working for families”
Target welfare to those who need it.
GSC2 conditions with trading partners which means difficulty exporting and employing
State is poor at picking winners
Incentivise and assist.

Q From Auckland women’s center.
Given that MMP has drastically improved women’s political representation in parliament, why doesn’t the national party support MMP?

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
That is incorrect. National believes that the choice of voting systems is up to the voters and has chosen to leave the choice to them, without comment.

Q From the Auckland coalition for the safety of women and children.
Many of the changes and cuts that national have made in the last three years have impacted negatively on women and also made it more difficult for them to be safe from abuse.
What will your party do to improve women’s lives and provide more safety for women?

Scuba Nurse: Massive apologies, but my phone ran out of battery and lost this page of notes when it closed unexpectedly..
Does anyone have this?

Q From the Women’s network of NZEI Te Riu Roa
What policies will your party have to help maintain quality public education?

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
A strong commitment to public education, the first four years of a child’s life are very important.
Critical of cuts to ECE
No one would tolerate high schools where 30% of staff are unqualified, why tolerate it in ECE?
Pro training incentive allowance.
Scrap national standards, replace with REAL standards.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Support the institutions not students for funding.
Sweden has an process initiated by the political left where funding was given to parents, not to the students; and funds were wasted less.
Improved quality of education and empowerment of parents.

Mana - Sue Bradford
All levels of the system need support
John Minto heavily involved in writing their work with this.
Abolish national standards.
Reject public/private partnerships in education.
Recognise Maori/ pacific island special needs. These are currently under recognised.
Update Te reo Maori

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
National values education as a liberator.
1.4 billion is coming to ECE
They are targeting communities with low participation.
1/5 of youth are leaving school without basic education – this is not good enough.
Student loans should remain interest free, but there should be criteria.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
Student loans system is flawed.
National standards are not needed.
When they went direct to the users (10-17 year olds) they didn’t want national standards, or particular types of education. They wanted quality relationships with their teachers.
Education needs to be relevant.
Racism should be addressed in schools
Centres are closing due to funding changes, so how can national claim no funding cuts?

Q From Feminist action.
Our justice system results in an abysmal conviction rate for sexual assault. How would your party address this problem?

Mana - Sue Bradford
A special taskforce for sexual assault was discussed for a long time. If Mana was part of the next government they would pick up on those recommendations and get New Zealand out of the dark ages.

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
The victim levy has been a success with $50 paid by perpetrators of crimes going towards services for victims.
The minister of women’s affair’s interventions have informed policy development
ACC is providing 16 counselling sessions to those affected by assault.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
The taskforce needs to be fully picked up and acted on.
Improve court processes
The current government haven’t done much.
ACC has been a traumatising experience for those who had to fight for their right to support.
Long term comprehensive approach is needed.
A commission should be made up from the special taskforce for sexual assault and the task force for family violence.

ACT - Kath McCabe
One problem is the police themselves.
After the unfortunate actions of the past, a commission of enquiry has gone some way towards dealing with the issue, but people don’t want to go to the police for help when they have their own issues.
A female minister of police is a good step.
When the accused can cross examine the victim, the system is appalling.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
Special victims task force good hearing from minister, but not on the ground level.
After the recent incident with a comedian there is no faith in the system and people are having to think seriously about whether they want to put themselves or their children through this horrific system.
Simon Power has other ideas
Need a cross party consensus.

Q From the Tertiary Education Union’s women’s sector
The literature is clear that high quality early childhood education has significant beneficial benefits for those children and society as a whole. The funding for ECE however has been savages under National/ACT.
Will your party increase funding in this area, particularly in low socioeconomic areas where the impact of provision of high quality ECE would make the most impact?

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
It wasn’t savaged.
This funding is the most the ECE has ever had.
Focus has been largely on areas with lower participation.
3500 new ECE places.

Mana - Sue Bradford
Mana has strong policy in this area and is passionate about increased funding for ECE and education led groups.
No public funding for profit led early childhood education.
Increase the provision of support for struggling areas.
Have ECE promote the link with schools in the same area.
Review and refocus on te reo Maori.
An annual audit on Te reo Maori providers is needed to keep a level of quality.

ACT - Kath McCabe
Don’t impose the governments will on the decision of parents to choose education providers
Struggling family’s need support and second income, and ECE supports both parents working.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
There is a big announcement coming, and so cannot speak too much on this.
20 hours free.
It is not true that there haven’t been cuts
Facilities with 100% qualified staff are being penalised under current funding.
Ensure that all children have the best possible start.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
There is a profit industry of baby barns.
Mothers are being forced back out to work, and this is not a victory for feminism.
80% of Maori and Pacific Island are just applying to the nearest provider rather than choosing. The market is deciding, rather than it being parent driven.
Not good enough.

Q From the Service and Food workers union. Nga ringa tota women’s sector.
Pay equity is not about individual women negotiating a better deal for themselves but about whole groups of workers who are paid less simply because most of those doing their work are women. It’s about valuing the work women often do, like caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
What specific actions would your party put in place, should you be in government and in a position to implement these, to lift the wages of caregivers and other mainly women workers like cleaners?

ACT - Kath McCabe“I am going to rephrase the question.”
Met a Russian surgeon who said that in Russia the majority of surgeons are female, and truck drivers are male. Surgeons ended up lower paid than truck drivers because women’s work is not valued, no matter what it is.
This is a perception problem.
Adult rate for youth means less jobs for youth.
The issue is 2/3 the recession.

Labour - Carol Beaumont MP
Increase minimum wage.
Narrow the gap.
Promote equality in the workplace.
We need roles traditionally seen as women’s work valued. If women take “men’s” jobs to try to increase income, who will be the caregivers?

National - Dr Jackie Blue MP
Lift all wages.
Hard times, national policy is needed to strengthen national industry.
Boost the economy, support businesses and increase education and skills training.
Pay gender gap is because women are in low paid roles
The Gender pay gap is at 10.6% which is the lowest it has ever been.

Greens - Catherine Delahunty MP
The statistics mentioned by Jackie can be read in so many different ways.
Structural help is needed. Bring back recommendations and actually implement them.
Test wages.
A structural commitment should be given.
Pansy Wong says women need to talk about rugby and be a plumber, but women and their work should be valued in their own right.

Mana - Sue Bradford
The incident with Alasdair Thompson exposed how employers think.
We need to lift wages now!
Workers in sectors that are undervalued need support, they are “invisibilised”.


Hugh said...

Re: Abortion

"There should be a review, there is currently no Green party consensus."

I find this extremely surprising.

Scuba Nurse said...

Me too to be honest. A bit disapointing. She was VERY firm on her opinion, but definately stated that there is currently no official party consensus. She did say she was actively working towards this.

Hugh said...

I wonder who in the Green Party is pulling in the other direction?

I'm going to be charitable and presume they did have a policy and it's being reviewed, rather than it's just taken them twenty fricking years to have a policy on an issue that is, whatever one's stance, definitely of major social relevance.

It really doesn't help with the perception that the Greens are a single issue party.

AnneE said...

"1st $5 earned should be tax free" - that ahould be 1st $5000. You've done a brilliant job, thank you! Jackie Blue saying the 90-day law helps women in casual jobs with no leave etc really cracked me up.

Julie said...

Thanks for this Scube, gutted I couldn't be there in the end (stupid germs!).

There's a real trend here, isn't there, with National candidates speaking to what National have done, but not about what they will do in future. I've seen this twice now - questions that are explicitly focused on what would you do get turned into what we have done. But that's not actually the question. Frustrating.

katy said...

Hugh, the Green Party talk about the need to review abortion services to ensure equity of access in their Women's Policy. Green Party policy is developed democratically through the membership so not sure it would be a case of someone "pulling in the other direction" though I agree that I am looking forward to something that clearly states how the MPs would vote.

Hugh said...

"Hugh, the Green Party talk about the need to review abortion services to ensure equity of access in their Women's Policy"...

So why didn't Delahunty say that?

As for pulling in the other direction, if everybody agrees with Delahunty then I would presume the policy would have been settled by now. So there must be somebody in there arguing against her, or at least at cross purposes to her.

I understand the Greens don't want to air their internal conflicts in public fora, but I do wonder who it might be.

katy said...

I have no idea of the internal discussions and I didn't attend the debate but I thought the question might have required a more specific response than that addressed by the policy?

Establishing the best position on an issue doesn't necessarily mean someone is being regressive, it just means you are trying to agree on the very best way forward.