We asked a bunch of MPs and candidates the same five questions to help you decide where to cast your vote at the end of this month. First up we quizzed National’s Wellington Central candidate, Paul Foster-Bell.
1. What are the five biggest issues this election?
I believe the five biggest election issues this year are:
- Responsible management of the economy. Nobody believes the opposition’s figures add up – and New Zealanders do not want the billions of dollars of offshore borrowing for expensive election bribes. National will balance the books by 2014-15.
- Growth and job creation. With National’s brighter future plan, we’ll see the benefits of a fairer tax structure (three quarters of all people paying 17.5% income tax or less), science and innovation leading to new products and services for export and a regulatory environment which supports small business. We’re on track to create 170,000 new jobs over the next four years, and our benefit reforms will take an active investment approach to breaking the cycle of dependency and helping beneficiaries back into work.
- Getting world-class performance out of our public services. We’ve moved resources away from unnecessary bureaucracy and into frontline services: e.g. 800 more doctors and 2,000 more nurses in the hospitals – delivering more than 20,000 extra operations each year. We put 600 more police on the beat and 1,600 more teachers in schools. This work must continue going forward.
- Investing in better infrastructure. New Zealand needs faster broadband, modernised school buildings and learning IT networks, better public transport and roading to ensure we can maintain and improve our productivity and lifestyles. National will deliver these without the reckless borrowing which Labour wants.
- Preserving our natural environment. I’m proud of National’s record – we have consented more than 1,300 MW of new power generation – all of it renewable: geothermal has doubled and we have brought in more wind turbines, tidal generation trials and other non-polluting technologies. We also worked with the Green Party to roll out home insulation to 12,000 homes in the Wellington region.
2. What is your stance on gay marriage?
National allows its MPs a conscience vote on moral issues, such as gay marriage. My personal stance is in favour of full equality before the law for all Kiwis, so I support legal marriage being available to all LGBTI couples.
3. What is your stance on gay couples being able to adopt?
We’ve acknowledged that the adoption laws are out of date in a number of regards. I would be supportive of gay couples being able to adopt – and other changes to this archaic piece of legislation, for instance around Maori whangai adoption practices.
4. How can we lower the suicide and attempted suicide rate of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) and questioning youth in New Zealand?
We need to change the culture of New Zealand to become even more supportive of people who may not confirm to societal norms. The Prime Minister has acknowledged that bullying and harassment play a tragic role in our high rates of youth suicide, depression and other negative outcomes. That is why the Government has invested $60m into a suite of programmes in our education system to combat behavioural issues in schools, including homophobic/transphobic bullying.
5. What is your view on the To Be Who I Am report?
The Government has a cross-departmental programme of work underway to implement the findings of the ‘To Be Who I Am’ report. Some issues are complex – for instance gender definitions on passports when there are international standards which must be complied with, and which do not yet acknowledge that gender encompasses a wide spectrum rather than merely the two categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’. These problems will take time to resolve. I support this ongoing work, and believe National’s philosophy of equal treatment for all our citizens provides a sound basis for approaching these issues.
Check back soon for answers to the same questions from other MPs and candidates standing in this year’s election.
- Election: Stephen Whittington
- Election: Grant Robertson
- Election: Charles Chauvel
- Election: Kevin Hague
- Election: Te Ururoa Flavell