This year, on September 23, New Zealand will vote on who gets to lead the country for the next three years. We've watched the unbelievable political events in the US and the UK, and now it's our turn. If there's anything that we can take from the wild currents of world politics it's that young people have to get out there and vote. Because the politicians elected to Parliament are the ones who will make important decisions about our future. But in amongst the spin and the bluster, it can be hard to know exactly who to vote for. Who stands for what? Who stands against what? Who cares about the issues that are important to you?
We get it.
So, in the lead-up to the election, Villainesse has reached out to politicians from all of the parties currently in Parliament, asking them why they think they deserve the vote of young women. In our 2017 election series, 'The Pitch', we've asked politicians to make their case to you so that when you go to the ballot box you'll know exactly where they stand.
Next in the series, we have Gareth Hughes of the Green Party. Here's his pitch to you.
Give us the elevator pitch: Why should young women vote for you?
It’s time for a new caring, compassionate government that will clean-up our environment, support families and back women. We’ve got a great team of experienced and new MPs that are strong champions for women.
If you are elected, what - if anything - will you do to close the gender pay gap?
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.
What economic benefits will you deliver for young women?
The Greens will manage our economy in the interests of all, not just the few. We build a fairer more innovative economy that moves away from a dependence on extractive industries that are heavily male-dominated and increase pay in female-dominated areas that suffer from gender pay gaps
How will you combat violence against women (including domestic violence)?
Every single one of us needs to take on this work. It’s a whole-of-society issue, and the responsibility to change things doesn’t lie solely with the families and people directly impacted by violence. My colleague Jan Logie’s currently has a Bill at select committee stage, which would see better workplace protections and support for victims of domestic violence. That’s a good starting point.
What will you do to reduce rates of sexual violence and improve the way that the justice system deals with crimes of sexual violence?
We need to have consent based sex education in every single high school. The Green Party wants to end a culture that trivialises or dismisses sexual assault and abuse and fails to ensure victims’ access to justice. Listening and believing women would be a good first step. The justice system needs a fundamental redesign to ensure that victims’ and survivors’ rights are better protected.
Where do you stand on abortion legislation? Would you like to see it changed? If so, what changes would you make?
It’s time to modernise our abortion laws and remove it from the Crimes Act.
How will you ensure that New Zealand’s environment is protected for future generations?
We will put the environment at the heart of policy-making, after all it is at the heart of our economy and society. A priority will be making sure our rivers are swimmable and Aotearoa New Zealand pulls its weight on climate change and reduces pollution.
In your opinion, what is the role of te Tiriti o Waitangi in modern-day Aotearoa?
It’s at the heart of modern Aotearoa New Zealand and should be treated as such. As a Pākehā I’d rather consider myself in New Zealand by right of treaty, and respect it, than by right of conquest.
Are you concerned about rising levels of inequality in New Zealand? If so, what would you do to close the gap?
Absolutely, in Aotearoa New Zealand we’ve seen the fastest growth in the developed world across my lifetime and it’s going to take a new direction to reduce it. The Green Party will make sure no one working, studying or on a benefit is in poverty and make our tax system more progressive.
Do you think that New Zealand’s sexuality education system is working? If not, what would you do to change it?
If you look at the evidence and real sexual harm too many Kiwis face it’s clear it isn’t working. The Greens would encourage better sex education and in particular on consent.
What will you do to combat New Zealand’s high rate of youth suicide?
The current levels are an indictment on the way we treat mental health funding and should be a priority of the Government. We will undertake a significant review of mental health services as urged by mental health experts and ensure it is funded appropriately.
Last chance: Is there anything else you’d like to say to young female voters?
Your vote matters. This election will be close and a real chance to change direction towards a cleaner, fairer, richer Aotearoa New Zealand. In less than 100 days we could start making sure everyone gets a fair go, that everyone has a home, and that every river and lake is cleaner.Support Villainesse