Youth Parliament

The 2007 Youth Parliament starts on Sunday 8 July. If any Youth MPs or Youth Press Gallery read this blog feel free to comment on how the preparation is going, and also how things go during the Parliament itself.

The list of topics for the Select Committees are:

* Are we the Pacific scrooge? Why have we not met the 0.7% target for ODA?
* Has the student loan system created an unfair burden for a new generation of New Zealanders?
* How can we keep more young people in upper secondary school, including should there be a higher leaving age and/or a minimum achievement level for leaving school?
* How can we prevent young people joining gangs and reduce violent offending?
* Is it fair to tax under 18 year olds at the same rate as over 18 year olds?
* New Zealand roads are the leading killer of young people, what can be done?
* What should the focus of our youth justice system be?
* Should New Zealand allow the therapeutic cloning of stem cells?
* Should Party Pills (BZP) be illegal?
* Was the National Certificate in Educational Achievement a good idea?

And the main topic in Parliament itself will be “Tackling climate change – how can New Zealand reduce our ecological foot print?”

It is somewhat regrettable that they have pre-decided for the students that reducing our “ecological foot print” is desirable regardless of the cost. It is a bit like having a topic of “How can NZ reduce our tax rates” instead of “Should NZ reduce our tax rates?”. The quality of the debate will be much the worse for the choice of topic.

Also of interest are the suggestions from Government Departments as to topics. I have a theory many of these are pet issues some in the public service would like to get through, but can’t get Ministers to front. Some mroe interesting ones are:

* Abolition of any voting age, giving New Zealanders of any age the right to enrol to vote
* Compulsory Maori and NZ Sign Language education in every primary school, and embedded in the NZ Curriculum.
* Should artists (composers, singers, animators, etc) be recompensed when the fruits of their labour were used attract internet traffic?
* Screen-Free Sundays Bill (a bill to ban all television broadcasting for one day a week in order to increase physical activity levels and encourage community-based activities)
* Should New Zealanders have a compulsory unique identifier number?