A housing development in Auckland. House prices have grown out of reach of many New Zealanders. Photograph: Nazar Abbas Photography/Getty Images
Q. How are you going to safeguard democratic freedoms in New Zealand in terms of overseas and internal lobby group interests funding election campaigns? Jennifer Ashby, 52, Dunedin
A. Weve already taken action to protect New Zealand from foreign interference in our elections by banning foreign donations to political parties and candidates.
The Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2), which passed in early December, bans foreign donations over $50. This will reduce the risk of foreign money influencing our election outcomes.
The bill also extends the requirement to include name and address details on election advertisements to apply to election advertisements in all mediums. This means that if someone wants to advertise online they need to say who they are, the same as if it was published in a newspaper.
The minister of justice has also signalled a wider review of the Electoral Act after the 2020 general election.
Q. While China funds and influences New Zealand and Australian politics, burgles and intimidates a critical academic, and keeps a million people in gulags, your government continues to snuggle up to the panda. I fully concede that the opposition would cheerfully do more than snuggle. Isnt there a more principled path you could take? Paul Kiely, 39, Wellington
A. Forgive me for pushing back on you there Paul! Although we have a solid and growing relationship, New Zealand and China are very different countries. There is a significant asymmetry in size, we have fundamentally different political systems and values, and on some issues we have quite different approaches.
It is only natural that there are areas where we do not see eye-to-eye and when that occurs, we raise it. For example, New Zealand regularly discusses human right issues with China,
including the situation in Xinjiang.
New Zealand closely follows human rights issues in our region, and we share international concerns regarding the treatment of Uighurs. This is why I raised New Zealands concerns about the situation in Xinjiang with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during my visit to China in April. I also raised concerns with Premier Li during our meeting in Bangkok in November this year.
New Zealand also joined a statement alongside 22 other countries expressing our concerns. The statement was delivered at a United Nations general assembly meeting in New York, and in in July, we signed a letter alongside 24 other countries, addressed to the president of the Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
We will continue to raise our concerns directly with China and use these opportunities to explain the importance that New Zealand attaches to human rights standards. New Zealand also takes any allegations of foreign interference in New Zealand seriously. Some media speculation has focused on China, but we do not single out any specific actor.
The important thing is that we have flexible and adequate protections. We have robust measures in place to protect our values, institutions and economy.
Q. What is one thing you want to accomplish in your second term if you get re-elected in 2020? Justin Lindsay
A. We havent set our policy agenda for the next election yet but the plan is to continue to build on the work we have done in the first term to deliver a better New Zealand for more people.
But as finance minister, Grant Robertson, said when releasing the budget policy statement foreshadowing the direction of travel for the government, we will continue our focus on tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand while also investing to future proof the economy.
The Budget 2020 priorities which would carry work over into the next term – are:
Just Transition:Supporting New Zealanders in the transition to a climate-resilient, sustainable, and low-emissions economy
Future of Work: Enabling all New Zealanders to benefit from new technologies and lift productivity through innovation
Mori and Pacific: Lifting Mori and Pacific incomes, skills, and opportunities
Child Wellbeing: Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing
Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Supporting improved health outcomes for all New Zealanders
Q. Young women are so commonly treated with such disdain and in blatant forms of sexism amongst male school peers and teachers too. How will you battle New Zealands misogynistic culture thats so very rampant in our schools? William B, 49, Auckland
A. Rebel against it! We have to do what we can to call out bad behaviour, but also to have plenty of role models too. I cant say Ive been told our schools are any worse than anywhere else, but theres almost always more to do to make sure our young women are treated fairly.
Q. Why is New Zealand risking 1080 invading our food chain? Kris Davies, Otago, 33
A. Were using all the tools weve got in the box to restore the dawn chorus and save Aotearoas precious kiwi, kkp, and whio from the predator crisis. 1080 is the best tool for large scale predator control and it dissolves quickly in the environment into harmless substances. We do want alternatives, but until we find them its the best weve got to combat predators.
Q. Whats the best way to batter snapper, and how long do you deep fry it? Ian, 52, Tuakau
A. What a controversial question Ian! Pan fried is best for delicious fresh snapper (in my opinion) but if you like a wee coating, Im a big fan of a bit of panko crumb (dip in flour, then egg, then panko). Either way, when you come to cook it, use a rice bran oil (it takes higher temperatures well) and a dollop of butter. Go well!