Girl Power.

  • Sun, 10, Sep, 2017 - 5:00:AM

The Pitch: Where the candidates stand on closing the gender pay gap

This year, on September 23, New Zealand will vote on who gets to lead the country for the next three years. Over the past few months, Villainesse has reached out to a number of politicians, asking them why they think they deserve the vote of young women. In our 2017 election series, 'The Pitch', we asked politicians to make their case to you so that when you go to the ballot box you'll know exactly where they stand.

We reached out to every party currently in Parliament, and received answers from National, Labour, The Green Party, Act and United Future. Although we reached out to a number of National MPs, including the Prime Minister, only Paula Bennett agreed to take part. New Zealand First did not answer our questions, so its MPs are not represented.

Between now and the election, we’ll be providing you with a snapshot of where the politicians we interviewed stand on important issues, so that you can compare and contrast. Next up is closing the gender pay gap.

We asked each politician, “If you are elected, what - if anything - will you do to close the gender pay gap?”

Here’s what they had to say.



Paula Bennett, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women: As Minister for Women and Minister for State Services, I already have a significant programme underway for helping to close the Gender Pay Gap. The Ministry for Women released some new research recently which shows the GPG is around 12% and has remained that way for over a decade. I find this simply unacceptable.

We’re leading the way in the public sector. The State Services Commission publishes agencies’ Gender Pay Gaps every year, and agencies outline actions they are taking to address issues in their Four Year Plans. It’s important the public sector leads by example here.

The Ministry for Women is now also working with the Private Sector to encourage businesses to measure and publicly release their Gender Pay Gap results.

This Government recently approved a $2 billion pay equity settlement for aged care workers. Having worked in this female-dominated industry, I know what huge difference this will make to the lives of these workers.


Jacinda Ardern, Labour Party leader: In 2017 there should be no such thing as a gender pay gap. I have committed that Labour will not rest until we have pay equity.

We need our mothers, our daughters, our sisters and our aunties to be valued no matter what workforce they are in. We need to start by scrapping the equal pay legislation that is before Parliament, because it will not deliver equal pay. By forcing pay equity claimants to compare themselves with colleagues in their own businesses and sectors, rather than with similarly skilled workers in other sectors, we will essentially never see again an equal pay claim like the one we saw for home care workers. That’s not right, and that’s why we’ll fix the law. 

Andrew Little: The gender pay gap isn’t acceptable, and is the result of decades and decades of discrimination and prejudice. This is the 21st century and we need to change things.

The recent pay equity settlement, where Kristine Bartlett and unions won equal pay against sheer Government resistance, confirmed the need for modern and fairer pay-setting mechanisms.

We will establish an easily accessible mechanism to deal with pay equity claims. We’ll also promote and encourage more women in senior public sector roles through appointments and personal development.

Carmel Sepuloni: I am a member of the Labour Party because it is the party committed to fairness, opportunity and upholding the dignity of all citizens. The undervaluing of female-dominated occupations is one of the largest remaining barriers to equal pay. It is shameful that men earn a median of $25 an hour and women are only earning $22 an hour. It’s even more concerning that the median hourly pay rate for Māori women is $19 and for Pacific is only $18.30. Labour is ABSOLUTELY committed to closing the gender pay gap. We will do this by increasing paid parental leave, introducing fair pay agreements and implementing recommendations from the Working Group on Pay Equity Principles.

Kiri Allan: I promise to keep harping on about gender equality as a cornerstone measure to the success of our society – I’ll support policy and legislation that allows women to have our worth recognised, whether that’s through paid parental leave measures, supporting a living wage, or lifting the minimum wage for all employees. We need gender equity and we need it now.

Louisa Wall: These are the latest gender pay gap statistics released by the Coalition for Equal Value, Equal Pay (CEVEP):

All men and all women - 13.6% difference

All men and Pakeha women 10.5% difference

All men and Maori Women 23% difference

All men and Pacific Women 28.5% difference

All men and Asian Women 20% difference.

In addition to earning less than men on average, Women in New Zealand are under-represented in workplace leadership roles so there is a lot of work to be done to address the gender pay gap and equal employment opportunities (EEO) in our workplaces. We also need to recognise the ethnic component to the gender pay gap with Maori and Pacific women disproportionately disadvantaged. The key to addressing this issue is greater transparency and a requirement of employers to publish their gender pay gap because it highlights the specific challenges and necessitates action that drives change. Our Labour team is committed to bringing about change. We will work to strengthen legislation and policy to address the gender pay gap and to promote EEO in our workplaces and on our boards. We are committed to paid parental leave and the provision of flexible working arrangements to allow women to participate fully in society.


James Shaw, Green Party leader: It’s 2017, and women need to be paid the same as men, pure and simple. Last week we announced that we would commit to pay equity for core Government staff by 2020, and broader state employees by 2025. Government needs to show leadership on this and the private sector will follow! Green MP Jan Logie recently had a member’s bill that would have exposed the difference between what men and women are paid, but unsurprisingly National voted it down.

Gareth Hughes: We will pay women more. We will encourage transparency by requiring employers to report on the pay differential and show leadership that the Government takes responsibility for reducing in the public service.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Jan Logie recently had a member’s bill voted down in the House, which would’ve provided the transparency necessary to figure out exactly where the gender pay gap is, and thus where and how to combat it. Turns out, National doesn’t want to know about it. In Government, we’d ensure that pay discrepancy was out in the open and grounded in the numbers, instead of unfolding behind closed doors.

Golriz Ghahraman: Women are consistently under-represented in public life – that is a key issue undermining our democracy. Our representation on boards is abysmal compared to our achievements – especially when you consider that women have overtaken male university graduates in professional fields. Governance bodies, from Parliament down, continue to be dominated by men – this contributes to the constant undervaluing of women in the work force. We’ve seen that formal equality is not enough and so affirmative action is needed to bring women into leadership. But alarmingly, even our anti discrimination laws are not properly enforceable right now; women aren’t even able to access data about the gender pay gap in their employment situation or industry. Jan Logie’s bill on this issue – which was recently voted down by the government – is desperately needed to help women better negotiate their salaries where male counterparts are being treated differently.

Metiria Turei: We’re committed to seeing women paid the same as men. We’d like to see employers collect and publish information about how much they pay women and men (anonymously), because what gets measured, gets managed. And watch this space – we’ll have more to say on this in the coming months.


[Note: The Māori Party’s co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell gave the exact same response to this question]

Marama Fox, co-leader of the Māori Party: The Māori Party believes if you do equal work, you should absolutely earn equal pay. For Māori women, the disparity is even wider than for their Pākehā counterparts. The imbalance of pay is unacceptable and the Māori Party will continue to advocate for equal pay for all, regardless of age, gender, or race.

Te Ururoa Flavell, co-leader of the Māori Party: The Māori Party believes if you do equal work, you should absolutely earn equal pay. For Māori women, the disparity is even wider than for their Pākehā counterparts. The imbalance of pay is unacceptable and the Māori Party will continue to advocate for equal pay for all, regardless of age, gender, or race.


David Seymour, ACT Party leader: Closing the gender pay gap is, unfortunately, a long-term project. Legislation, regulation and government intervention can only go so far when there are unconscious biases that affect the pay gap. In the long term, it is attitudes that have to change. We support equal pay for equal work. Practically, we want to increase opportunities for everyone by providing an education system that isn’t one-size-fits-all, and meets the needs of every student so that nobody is left behind. Remote working through better technology, and the app economy, have the potential to boost incomes for people who have to fit work around childcare – the majority of whom are currently women.


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