UPDATE: On August 21, Peter Dunne announced his resignation from politics. He will not be seeking re-election.
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 Peter Dunne, leader of the United Future Party. Here's his pitch to you.
Give us the elevator pitch: Why should young women vote for you?
United Future is based on the principle of equality and equal opportunities, we want to make sure that everyone can get equal pay, equal recognition and equal respect in society. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t give that to women, but United Future is committed to protecting everyone from discrimination and fostering equal opportunity.
If you are elected, what - if anything - will you do to close the gender pay gap?
We support additional transparency, where it doesn’t compromise individual privacy and ensuring that guidelines and laws around payment of individuals are clear and that the laws are known.
What economic benefits will you deliver for young women?
We will do everything in our power to ensure that young women get as much of a chance at everything as their counterparts, we will fully support any legislation that can do that.
How will you combat violence against women (including domestic violence)?
We would establish a transparent Police staffing formula that ensures a minimum presence in all areas, yet allows for extra police to be re-deployed where the crime rate exceeds the national average and ensure that Courts make the welfare and safety of victims, their families and the public paramount when considering bail applications.
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 would ensure that the Parole Board consider the impact on victims and the community when considering the conditions placed on parolees (e.g. restrictions on where they will be located) and strengthening victim support, especially with regards to crimes of a sexual nature.
Where do you stand on abortion legislation? Would you like to see it changed? If so, what changes would you make?
We don’t have an official party position on abortion, we allow our individual members to make a conscience vote. We are however open to having a discussion of if the legislation is fit for purpose.
How will you ensure that New Zealand’s environment is protected for future generations?
We support a conservation levy of $25 on anyone entering the country, with all proceeds going to the DOC. That way all who enjoy our great outdoors contribute to its upkeep. If current estimates are correct that would mean $125 million in extra revenue for the DOC to keep up our conservation estate and the New Zealand environment.
In your opinion, what is the role of te Tiriti o Waitangi in modern-day Aotearoa?
United Future supports the current process of resolving genuine historical Treaty grievances. While there has been considerable progress towards the resolution of the many claims that have been lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal, we believe this process needs to be completed as soon as possible. We want to ensure that settlements fit within the norms of a modern liberal democratic society – i.e. they should not give one class of citizens’ greater rights than others but should recognise the unique place that hapü, whänau and iwi have had in our country.
Are you concerned about rising levels of inequality in New Zealand? If so, what would you do to close the gap?
We are concerned, we want to change this by returning to fees-free tertiary education, so everyone in New Zealand can have access to high-quality education without the cost barrier. We support a rent-to-buy scheme that allows people to rent their homes from the government and have a portion of that rent go towards buying the deed to that house. Education and housing are two ways we can level the playing field and reduce inequality.
Do you think that New Zealand’s sexuality education system is working? If not, what would you do to change it?
We fully support greater access to recourses around sexual education for schools to strengthen the current curriculum.
What will you do to combat New Zealand’s high rate of youth suicide?
We support a review of our mental health priorities, and UnitedFuture has four priorities that we want to see included in our nations mental health strategy. Increasing the number of community mental health providers, funding research into mental health issues, particularly those affecting our young people, increasing the recourses for mental health professionals and increasing funding for youth-focused counselling.
Last chance: Is there anything else you’d like to say to young female voters?
United Future is proud to be a party that supports equal opportunity, and one that will always strive to make sure that every New Zealander gets a fair go. With your vote we can make that a reality, protecting our environment, growing our economy and supporting our communities, these are all things we all care about, and with your support, we can ensure it happens.Support Villainesse