I would have had this up sooner but something happened with the site and we lost it for a bit. But it’s back! And now I can tell you all about the event that was Ladies in the House, put on by The Wellington Young Feminists’ Collective.

Firstly a huge thanks and congratulations to the WYFC for a great forum. It ran far more smoothly than televised ‘debates’ where politicians are forced to shout each other down and nothing is actually said. We got to hear the actual opinions and party stances on issues and policies that are relevant to everyone voting on November 26th.

I have far too many notes so I’ll try and keep this as concise as possible.

The Politicians:

  • Paul Foster-Bell              (National Party Candidate for Wellington Central, @PARFosterBell)
  • Jordan Carter                  (Labour Party List Candidate, @jordantcarter)
  • Stephen Whittington    (ACT Party Candidate for Wellington Central, @Steve_Whttngton)
  • Holly Walker                  (Green Party Candidate for Hutt South, @hollyrwalker)
  • Jan Logie                         (Green Party Candidate for Mana, @janlogie)
  • Ben Craven                      (NZ First Candidate for Wellington Central, @_Ben_Craven_)
Each person had five minutes to introduce themselves, including the issues that they felt strongly about.

Paul spoke very highly of  Hekia Parata who he said is doing great work. He said that under the National government there’d been a decrease in the pay gap between males and females 10.6% to 9.6% and that “any gap is too much”. This was later refuted by Holly who stated that the most common measure of gender pay gap showed that it now sat at 13% and wasn’t getting smaller.

Jordan stated that Labour was founded on the principles of equality. “Liberalism is not enough”. He quoted the Labour line of making “the hard decisions for tomorrow, not the soft decisions for today” and that for the most fair and more diverse government we should vote MMP in the referendum.

Stephen stated that he believes the biggest issue for women is social discrimination and stands behind the ideal that everything should be fair before the court of law. He went on to say that the gender pay gap was not something the goverment could fix as it was a result of social expectation but that the paternity leave pay encouraged paying women less…

Holly then spoke highlighting the fact that currently the Green party has the most balanced gender make up including the co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei. She bought up the gender pay gap stating that for university graduates, with identical degrees, the gap rose from 1% one year out of uni to 17% after five years. Holly stated Greens would bring in 13 months, 100% paid parental leave and reinstate pay for solo parents studying at uni, not just at Polytechs.

Jan spoke and said she wanted to focus more specifically on one major issue – gender based violence. I guess she had this advantage as Holly had already done a lot of promo for the Greens policies. Jay said that not just one policy could fix gender inequality – it needs a holistic approach. She strayed from her main focus slightly but raised a valid point that not everyone identifies as male or female and this needed looking into. Jay stated the Greens had a number of policies to help those affected by domestic violence – using benefits as a safety net, bringing in the $15 minimum wage, and work on state housing and more, eg Women’s Refuge.

Now to arguably the most interesting speaker of the evening – Ben from NZ First. He stated as soon as he stood up that the people who were meant to be there (Brett Pierson and Marise Bishop) pulled out and he was very underprepared. It showed. Ben was “stoked about” the fact that 4 out of 10 of the top MPs were female, continually pointed out that ‘there are lots of ladies in NZ First”  and even brought up a previous faux pas where he said there were “a lot of women behind the scenes” at NZ First. Probably didn’t need to draw attention to it… Ben got considerable murmurs from the crowd, saying that NZ First will cut off the welfare of those who commit offences against women and children, seemingly ignoring the idea that it was possible those not on welfare could also be perpetrators. Ben really did seem out of his depth. I felt sorry for him in the end and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. He just didn’t have the ability to correctly express his views in a suitable fashion.

THEN there were questions from the audience, I’m going to bullet point answers as I realise this is hardly concise!

Why are women in NZ more likely to die at the hands of their own partner or family members than in a car crash?
Jan (Green) – it’s ingrained sexism. The All Black coverage dominates the newspaper for weeks while the Silver Ferns win gets shunted to the back page.
Paul (National) – it’s cultural, hard for govt to change, National have given more police, lower crime rates, some of which will be domestic violence. Those who commit these crimes pay a levy for victim support.
Jordan (Labour) – agreeed with Jan and stated that this approach by National is a perfect example of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff rather than trying to prevent the issue. Pointed people to their Women’s Policy on their website. Paul then asks people to do the same but…that’s more difficult as there is no Women’s Policy on their site.
Stephen (Act) – people are less likely to talk/report domestic violence than other crimes. One way to aid this is through the sharing of doctors’ reports – in the USA women were found to more likely go to the doctor if violence was taking place & use it as a cry for help or as a way to raise the issue without ‘dobbing in’ their partner.

To be fair to all parties – Women’s Policies can also be found on the Green Party’s website, however I couldn’t find one on NZ First or Act’s sites.

What are the parties going to do about Abortion? Will the Act be reviewed? Labour – you had nine years and did nothing and National – you’ve had three and done nothing.
Jordan – personally pro choice but politicians fear the public, it’s a very touchy issue that needs careful consideration.
Paul – again his personal opinion is the same – pro choice
Ben – says he is Pro choice, but expressed that he was not keen on abortion for minor cosmetic defects. The audience was surprised to say the least, and not only because he seemed to have totally missed the point.
Holly and Jan – don’t believe it should be in the Crimes Act – which needs reviewing and that “it’s not about cosmetic issues but personal choice”.

Sex Education in schools – some people say we are teaching kids too much too young while others say we aren’t teaching them enough:
Jordan – a lack of Sex Ed is not a good thing & teaching abstinence also not a good thing – education need to be increased.
Jan – teaching should be encouraged to be around consent & desire.
Stephen – says something along the lines of  how we don’t want Catholics pulling their kids out of school and home schooling them.

The Bloke Test, the Veitch interview and the ‘Hot List’ – directed at Paul.
Paul – does the best he can. He says everyone has things they regret. Maintains they’re not things he stands for. He doesn’t apologise though, and I don’t believe it’s his job to apologise for John Key’s actions. I also personally believe that the ‘Bloke Test’ is neither John Key’s or Phil Goff’s fault but is the fault of Stuff, Fairfax media and the New Zealand public who have come to believe this is what an election should be based on.

Adoption Act? Particularly around adoption by gay people and single people.
Stephen – it needs to be reviewed. It’s ridiculous that gay couples cannot adopt yet a single gay person can.
Jan – it’s a 1950s’ legislation and Greens will review it.
Jordan – Labour will review Adoption act
Paul – believes the Act does need review.

OVERVIEW: It was a great event. A chance to see local MPs in action discussing their take on issues raised by the people voting for them. Again thank you and well done to the WYFC who not only held the event and provided this opportunity BUT also offered cheese, crackers and juice at the end. The Greens got the most cheers, excluding when Ben stated he had a girlfriend, while both Ben and Stephen got the most murmurs of disapproval. Both Jordan and Paul spoke well and didn’t seem to step on too many toes while still maintaining to express both theirs and their parties’ views. I really hope that this can become a regular event, not only for National elections but for local elections too.

Disclaimer: All I have written here is what I furiously typed into my phone. If I have missed something – please comment. If I have misquoted something – please comment. If you feel I have the wrong end of the stick – please comment. If you like the cut of my jib – please comment.