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The Pitch: Metiria Turei

UPDATE: On August 9, Metiria Turei announced that she would step down as Co-Leader of the Green Party and resign from politics at the election. Subsequently, on August 31, she told a crowd in Christchurch that she wants to stay in Parliament after the election as the electorate MP for Te Tai Tonga.

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 Metiria Turei, co-leader of the Green Party. Here's her pitch to you.

 

Give us the elevator pitch: Why should young women vote for you?

Young women should vote Green because we’re like you. We’re 27 years old. A bit sassy, but recently people have noticed we’re taking things more seriously. We’re into fairness and we don’t put up with nonsense. And we care about the same things you do: affordable, decent quality housing for everyone, reliable buses and trains, vibrant cities, rivers clean enough to swim in, a government you can trust, and stopping climate change.

If you are elected, what - if anything - will you do to close the gender pay gap?

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.

What economic benefits will you deliver for young women?

Higher wages (the same as men!) and more job security.

When I was a young single mum, things like the training incentive allowance enabled me to put myself through law school and start building a more secure future for my daughter. Since then, those opportunities have been eroded for other young women. The Green Party will restore them.

We’ll keep the interest off student loans and we’ll review the student support system to bring it up to speed with real world living costs. If you’re about to have kids, we want to give you more parental leave. And if you’ve already got them, we want to give you extra leave to look after them when they’re sick.

In the bigger picture, we’ll shift the economy towards the clean, high-tech products and software that are in demand globally. Exporting things like raw milk powder and raw logs is a wasted opportunity to add value to these products and export them for more.

How will you combat violence against women (including domestic violence)?

I’m very proud of my Green Party colleague Jan Logie for championing domestic violence issues. She has a bill before Parliament to bring in domestic violence leave – for victims and perpetrators. You can’t just pass a law against domestic violence and expect the problem to be fixed, but Jan’s bill is an example of some of the structural changes we can make that opens up space for families and communities to address domestic violence on their own terms. The goal is to keep people in employment through difficult times and help provide pathways out of domestic violence situations.

What will you do to reduce rates of sexual violence and improve the way that the justice system deals with crimes of sexual violence?

It starts young – with consent-based sex ed at school. The justice system needs a fundamental redesign to ensure that victims and survivors’ rights are better protected. The goal should be a culture shift away from trivialising or dismissing sexual violence and towards believing women.

Where do you stand on abortion legislation? Would you like to see it changed? If so, what changes would you make?

Our abortion law is out of date and we want to see it changed. Abortion should be taken out of the Crimes Act and regulated as a health issue instead.

How will you ensure that New Zealand’s environment is protected for future generations?

Where do I start?! We’d stop mining on conservation land, like National is allowing. What is the point in conservation land if coal mining is allowed? We’d make the Maui dolphin sanctuary a real sanctuary – no more oil and gas drilling in this so-called sanctuary. Under National, more of our native birds have got closer to extinction. The Green Party will restore funding for the Department of Conservation to protect our natural heritage. And, of course, we’d prioritise cleaning up rivers so they’re safe for swimming. It’s every New Zealander’s birth right to swim in their local river – and with smarter, cleaner farming and better resource management we will make that a reality.

In your opinion, what is the role of te Tiriti o Waitangi in modern-day Aotearoa?

Te Tiriti is our founding document as a nation. It means the government has a responsibility to work in partnership with Māori, and not to make decisions on behalf of Māori. Honouring the Treaty is a core principle of the Green Party – we’ll be taking that into government with us.

Are you concerned about rising levels of inequality in New Zealand? If so, what would you do to close the gap?

Yes I am. I’d like all parents to be guaranteed enough income to give their kids a decent start in life. The broken housing market is also key factor behind rising inequality, so that needs fixing with a capital gains tax on investment properties, more rent-to-buy programmes, a huge state-led building programme, a warrant of fitness for all rental houses, and more stable and secure tenancy rules.

Do you think that New Zealand’s sexuality education system is working? If not, what would you do to change it?

We need to have consent-based sex education in every single high school. That’s a really important first step.

What will you do to combat New Zealand’s high rate of youth suicide?

In the short term, it’s really important that we fund services like Lifeline and Youthline better. But the bigger picture is we need to rebuild some of our communities, provide more opportunities for people to find a sense of purpose and fulfilment, to get involved, get to know their neighbours, and feel like they’re part of something bigger. That means supporting more jobs that pay better, but also championing the arts in communities, sports, music – everything that brings people together.

Last chance: Is there anything else you’d like to say to young female voters?

The Greens want to work with you to build an Aotearoa New Zealand that we all want to live in. One that looks after our people and protects our rivers and wild places. Together, we’ve got what it takes to create a great big future for our great little country.

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