Before the General Election, we asked all Parties to tell us where they stood on 15 important issues
With the help of member input and allied organisations, we developed 15 specific policy questions we put to the political parties everyday over 15 days before the election. We used AskAway - an innovative online tool that empowers the public to ask questions directly to political parties and the candidates can choose to answer.
The questions with the most votes tended to get answered first so we needed your help to 'upvote' the questions that matter most to you. Here are the questions we posted.
Day 15: Adequate services - fairer tax system
Our fifteenth question to all Parties is:
How will you create a tax system that creates a fairer spread of income and wealth?
More equal societies are healthier and happier. Most modern social problems -- poor health, violence, lack of community life, and mental illness -- are more likely to occur in less-equal societies. New Zealand has one of the higher income gaps in the developed world, so to help close this gap today we're asking for a fairer tax system that will reduce income inequality, which would create a happier, healthier country for everyone.
Day 14: Adequate services - healthcare for children
Our fourteenth question to all Parties is:
CAN you provide free healthcare for all children 18 and under?
About 44,000 sick or injured children failed to see a doctor last year because of the cost, according to a Ministry of Health report. Today we're partnering with our allies Child Poverty Action in asking all Parties if they can commit to keeping all New Zealand children healthy and well.
Day 13: Adequate services - Welfare benefits
Our thirteenth question to all Parties is:
CAN you commit to raising welfare benefits above recognised poverty lines?
Welfare benefits in NZ are relatively low compared to the poverty line. This especially impacts the 25% of New Zealand children who live in sole-parent families, which are much more likely to experience poverty. Today we're asking all Parties if they can commit to lifting our most vulnerable children out of poverty by raising welfare benefits above the poverty line.
Day 12: Adequate services - Living wage
Our twelfth question to all Parties is:
CAN you commit to pay all public sector employees and contractors a living wage by 2020?
The minimum wage in 1946 was 80 per cent of the median wage, but has now fallen to just 53 per cent. As the gap between the rich and the poor grows in New Zealand and poverty increases, more and more New Zealanders don't get paid enough to meet their needs and fully participate in society. Today we're asking all Parties if they can commit to a living wage for their employees as real action towards a thriving nation.
Day 11: Adequate services - Healthy homes
Our eleventh question to all Parties is:
CAN you commit to subsidising insulation and other healthy home initiatives?
Of the 270,000 children in poverty, over 70 percent live in rental accommodation: 20 percent in state housing managed by Housing NZ and 50 percent in private rental accommodation. Today we're asking all Parties what they will do to extend subsidies and support for improving and ensuring the quality and health of rental housing stock in New Zealand.
Day 10: Adequate services - Free school meal
Our tenth question to all Parties is:
CAN you provide a free meal in all low decile schools?
270,000 of our children live in households where incomes fall below recognised poverty thresholds. Study after study has revealed that hungry children, and children eating poorly, don’t achieve as successfully at school as children eating healthily and well. So today we're asking the politicians to take tangible action to help the next generation of Kiwis learn and grow.
Day 9: Sustainable & thriving ecosystems - Clean energy
Our ninth question to all Parties is:
CAN you commit to accelerating the shift to clean, renewable energy (for transport, industry and electricity)?
New Zealand could easily reach the goal of nearly 100% of its electricity from renewable energy in the coming two decades. Today we paired up with our allies GenerationZer0 to ask all parties about their commitment to a clean energy economy.
Day 8: Sustainable & thriving ecosystems - Natural Resource Management
Our eighth question to all Parties is:
CAN you ensure sustainable, safe and equitable use of natural resources?
Our oceans are facing the potentially devastating impacts of deep seabed mining off the East Coast, while our land and our health are under threat from plans to mine billions of tonnes of Southland lignite, coal mining for export at Denniston, and increased oil and gas exploration in the Taranaki region. We ask all the Parties how they're going to protect the communities and natural environment in those areas from the dangers of these projects.
Day 7: Sustainable & thriving ecosystems - Clean waterways
Our seventh question to all Parties is:
What steps will you take to protect, preserve and restore clean and healthy waterways in New Zealand? Including our rivers, lakes and ocean?
Around two thirds of our native freshwater fish are on the threatened species list. The clean cool waterways they need to survive are increasingly being replaced with streams full of mud, municipal effluent, factory by-products, nutrient run-off and waste products. We want the Parties to put forward their proposals to keep our waterways healthy into the future.
Day 6: Sustainable & thriving ecosystems - Emissions Reduction Target
Our sixth question to all Parties is:
Will you legislate a binding 2050 emissions reduction target of at least 50% below 1990 levels?
The current Government has set unconditional targets of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels in 2020 and 50% below 1990 levels in 2050. However official projections show these will not be met with current policies, and emissions will continue to grow on every possible measure. Our allies Generation Zero are calling for a strong means of holding the Government to account, and for an authoritative independent voice in the debate.
Day 5: Sustainable & thriving ecosystems - Maui's Dolphin
Our fifth question to all Parties is:
CAN you implement urgent measures to save and regenerate the Maui dolphin?
Maui’s dolphins are listed as critically endangered with the latest estimate putting their population at just 55 dolphins over the age of one. 9 out of 10 Kiwis want action to save them from extinction, and our allies Forest & Bird and WWF recommend are calling for full protection from all threats – fishing, marine mining and seismic surveying - in the areas that they inhabit.
Day 4: Transparent democratic processes - Freedom of Information
Our fourth question to all Parties is:
CAN you strengthen the protection of freedom of information; including legislation, resources & training?
In his book 'Dirty Politics' Nicky Hager championed the right to access private information for the public good and proposed strengthening the protection of freedom of information as one of several critical steps our Government could take to reduce corruption and increase the transparency of democratic processes in New Zealand.
Day 3: Transparent democratic processes - Christchurch
Our third question to all Parties is:
CAN you commit to handing back the leadership of Christchurch to the Christchurch Council and elected local representatives?
Early central government intervention after the earthquakes was necessary and has been effective; it is now time to hand back all decisions relating to the future of Ōtautahi Christchurch to those who live there. As reporter Dita de Boni recently wrote: "The wider issue about how democracy is being eroded in Christchurch, and how that is setting it up to fail many of its people in the future, is not so visible to the outsider"
Day 2: Transparent democratic processes - Public Broadcasting
Our second question to all Parties is:
CAN you commit to increased and secure funding for public broadcasting?
Independent news media play a critical role in a transparent and effective democracy. When news rooms answer to corporate interests, or are chronically underfunded, we end up with people like Whaleoil's Cameron Slater acting as political commentators. Increased and secure funding for public broadcasting (like Radio NZ and TVNZ) protects an essential pillar of our democracy - and a national treasure.
Day 1: Transparent democratic processes - NGOs
Our first question to all Parties is:
CAN you provide secure funding of community services AND protect their right to to provide commentary and advocacy on Government policy?
Community organisations and civil society play a critical role in a transparent and effective democracy. When governments threaten to cut funding to groups that criticise their policies, we lose an essential check on executive power.
What do you think of our questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org