YN Presidential Contender Brittany Raleigh

July 21st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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Brittany Raleigh (standing for President)

“I’m blue through and through. At intermediate we held mock elections where a buddy and I convinced our entire class to vote National (and this was in 2002). As a fan of the free market, low taxes and high personal freedoms, joining the Young Nats and the National Party was always going to be inevitable for me.When I turned up to my first event, I expected the organisation to be a place of debating the nuances of policy and waving signs on the side of the road from dusk til dawn (which it is). What I didn’t expect was that it would be a place where I would meet some of my closest friends, where my ideas would be listened to, and where I could have a lasting impact. The Young Nats have a special place in the National Party – we challenge, we support, and most importantly we are its future. 

The Young Nats need strong, experienced leadership that represents the voice of members. This weekend at the Young Nats’ AGM we have an important opportunity to build on the success we’ve had so far, and take the organisation to a new level. We can only do this if we have a team with a vision and a proven track record leading the charge from the front. 

It is crucial that we have an organisation with a culture of inclusion, that we broaden our base to include high schools, uni students, young professionals and tradespeople, and  expand our regions beyond just the metro areas. We need to run the best events with an equal focus on all regions, promote and win on the policies members feel passionately about, and ensure we have the financial resourcing to achieve our goals. We need to be preparing now to win a fourth term in 2017. We’ve had our platform available here on our website for the last three months. 

It’s important to be upfront about what you’re promising. Here’s our 100 day plan, our immediate priorities if elected: 

  1. Unify. Reunite the organisation as one – where everyone works together for our common purpose
    2. Set the date for a 2016 Ball & start planning an election year 2017 Ball in Christchurch
    3. Plan a national event hosted by each region
    4. Bring back Young Nats Merchandise
    5. Call a national policy forum so you can tell us what you support
    6. Grassroots expansion. Grow our uni presence to new campuses, establish ourselves in high schools, forge relationships with YoPro groups & assist branch expansion in rural areas & smaller cities
    7. Fill the coffers. Kickoff fundraising initiatives & work with regions to raise operational money & 2017 campaign funds
    8. Prepare for 2017 now. Start campaign planning, training & work shops now to win 2017
    9. Review & clarify rules & standing orders to ensure ongoing transparency & compliance
    10. Review digital strategy. Utilise our tools for grassroots engagement & policy input, restore direct membership access & email authority to regions

I believe I have the experience and the results to take us forward. Since 2011 I have been involved in all facets of the Party and the Young Nats – volunteering in positions ranging from policy chair, secretary, treasurer, campaign manager, youth rep, list ranking committee member, women’s advisory group member, to ball committee member. As Northern Region Chair from 2013-2015 we saw our membership double, we fund-raised over $15,000, we passed multiple remits at a national level, we ran a campaign team of over 100 volunteers, and our social events regularly drew in over 100 people. Born and bred in Tauranga, I now live and work in Auckland as a Key Account Manager at a national freight company, which has given me invaluable commercial and professional experience. 

It is a privilege to seek election with such a talented and diverse team of Young Nats from around the country. Clive Antony is seeking election as Vice President, Ben Wooding as Treasurer, Michael Little as Secretary, Jason Howarth as Policy Chair, Jared Jamison as Grassroots Coordinator, and Sarah Fenwick as Projects Coordinator. Each region in the country is represented on our team and we all bring something unique to the table. Our full bios and backgrounds are available here on our website. 

The Young Nats have an exciting future – one which I hope to be at the helm of. “

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YN Presidential Contender Joel Rowan

July 21st, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve observed (or been involved in) the Young Nats for almost 30 years, and I’ve never seen the organisation stronger. Their membership is well into the thousands, with active branches on every campus. I suspect they almost have more individual paid up members than the entire Labour Party.

In the last few years they’ve had a big impact on policies. Their lobbying helped get voluntary membership of student associations through Parliament, kept the alcohol purchase age at 18, and convinced a number of National MPs to vote to allow same sex marriages. They’ve also played a huge role in digital campaigning, and helping marginal electorates at election time.

Many people have been part of their success, but a lot is due to Sean Topham and Shaun Wallis who are retiring after four years as President and Vice-President respectively. They have done a great job in making Young Nats a vibrant fun group that people want to join and is relevant.

This weekend, delegates will elect their replacements, and it is great to see that there is healthy competition for every position on their national executive. It’s great when so many people want to be involved at the top level. There’s even tickets and campaign websites.

As a lot of Young Nats read this blog, I’ve agreed to run guest posts by Joel Rowan and Brittany Raleigh, who are both standing for the presidency. Joel’s post is below and Brittany’s will follow later today.

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Joel Rowan (standing for President) and Katy Hendrikse (standing for VP)

I’m running to be the new Young Nats president.

You may have known that already. But you might not know why.

I decided to do this because I believe I’m the best person to lead our organisation through an important time. We’re supporting a third-term government and we have to work harder to keep winning support, and to win enough votes for a fourth term.

I led the Young Nats Digital Team, and our social media campaign throughout 2014. In that time we grew from under 6,000 fans to over 19,000 on Facebook. I led a team from around the country, and we delivered unprecedented results. Thanks to our campaign, thousands of young voters who probably would not otherwise have heard from National, saw at least one of our campaign posts. National won the campus booths at Otago University – renowned as a Labour stronghold. Our efforts online (and on the ground) made a difference.

I’m driven by a desire to make the Young Nats even better than we are today. I joined in 2011 and I’ve seen the very best of the Young Nats – great parties, policy victories, and a co-ordinated, successful ground campaign for the 2014 election. I’m really proud of our organisation.

But we can’t rest on those laurels. We can’t continue in the same way and expect to sustain the success of the last three years. That’s why I’ve assembled a team around me that is talented, smart, and made up of students in touch with the University campuses where we have the greatest potential for growth. They have the campaign experience needed to lead another winning effort in 2017.

We’ve built our plan based on things we want to do differently to positively change our organisation. We’re going to change the events that the Young Nats hold, and make it easier and more attractive to sign up, so we expand our membership. We’re going to change the way we form policy so that our supporters are engaged and have ownership of it. We’re going to better prepare for campaigns and equip our activists with the skills and resources they need to ensure National wins again in 2017.

My vision is to lead a friendlier organisation where new members feel welcome and everyday students can join, make great friends and strong networks while they learn valuable skills along the way. I believe when we do that we will grow in size, and gain influence, and be ready to win in 2017.

We’re the Team To Win not because we want to win on July 26. We’re the team to win because our plan will ensure we win new members, win new influence, and win the general election in 2017. That’s why I’m here.

If you want to know more about my team, visit teamtowin.nz

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Young Nats doing their job

May 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Young Nats have said:

The Young Nats support the New Zealand Medical Students Association’s campaign to exempt medical students from the seven year equivalent full time study cap on borrowing for course costs, and want the cap extended to nine years for this group of students.

“The seven year cap makes sense for most students because most courses don’t require study beyond seven years. We know the obvious exception to this is medical graduates who need to acquire essential skills through postgraduate study” Young Nats President, Sean Topham says.

Medical students are in short-supply and are arguably our hardest working. Making it harder for them could put further pressure on the health system in the long-term.

When the cap takes effect in six months, many students close to graduating will find it difficult to finance additional costs of around $15,000, possibly forcing them to delay their study or quit altogether.

It’s good to see the Young Nats doing their job and disagreeing with the Government from time to time. Youth wings of political parties should not just be agreeing with everything their party does. It is healthy for them to have their own views, and to express them publicly.

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Press Council slams Waikato Times

December 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged back in April on a disgraceful front page story in the Waikato Times that published an allegation from Curwen Rolinson (NZ First Youth Leader) on Facebook that the Waikato Young Nationals had purchased 202 copies of Dirty Politics to do a Nazi style book burning.

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As you can see the Waikato Times didn’t only make it their front page lead, they even commissioned a graphic of the book burning.

They were told the story was false. They decided to run it as a front page lead, and now the Press Council has slammed them for it in one of the harsher rulings I have seen.

The Press Council has said:

The Press Council recognises that social media are a frequent source of information that can be checked and developed into stories capable of meeting the standards of accuracy, fairness and balance expected by readers of a reliable newspaper.

In this case the Council does not believe the newspaper had sufficient corroboration of the claim on Facebook. The Times’ additional source, a student who would not be named, claimed to have seen Mr Letcher with more than 200 books. If that statement were true, it does not establish that Mr Letcher intended to burn them.

The Facebook posting as reported by the Times, said, “So apparently the CNI Young Nats (and presumably the NZ Young Nats) are buying up copies of Nicky Hager’s # Dirty Politics….and burning them.” The word “apparently” should be noted. It suggests the information was at best hearsay, at worst an assumption by a person associated with a rival political party.

The Times called it “rumour” but its report also claimed to have confirmed part of the rumour. It is therefore difficult to accept the Regional Editor’s response that the paper was merely reporting an allegation. Its confidence in its own source and its decision to splash the book burning allegation across its front page would have given the story credibility in the minds of some readers. 

While Mr Letcher’s denial was also reported prominently, this does not redeem the report. Newspapers need to be careful when dealing with rumour that is denied. A false accusation can easily be made for the purpose of forcing a political opponent to deny it publicly. That indeed is said to be a device of “dirty politics”. Newspapers should take care to ensure they are not unwitting instruments of it.

Basically the Press Council has said that the Waikato Times was part of Dirty Politics themselves.  They smeared Aaron Letcher on the basis of a Facebook post by a political opponent and an anonymous source.

They refused to admit they did anything wrong:

The Times did not base stories solely on social media but those media often provided tips or starting points for stories. In this case the allegation on social media was supported by a source the Times considered credible and agreed not to name, which is standard practice for news organisations.

Their anonymous source lied to them, as there were not 202 books purchased or in Letcher’s possession. You only have to protect sources that tell you the truth.

The WaikatoTimes could not substantiate this rumour to a standard that meets the Press Council’s principles of accuracy and fairness. Mr Letcher’s complaint is upheld.

The Press Council has upheld, by a majority of 8:3, a complaint against the Waikato Times over a front page report of a claim that Young Nationals had bought hundreds of copies of the book Dirty Politics, intending to burn them.

What I find amazing is that it was  only an 8:3 decision, not 11:0. I can’t think of a more clear cut example, especially when you consider how it was made a front page lead. Of interest the three who said it were fine are all members meant to be representing the public, while all the members representing newspapers, magazines and journalists condemned it.

I hope the  Waikato Times runs the decision of the Press Council with the same prominence as they did the original story, and they finally apologise to Aaron Letcher for the outrageous smear they published as a front page lead, linking him to a purported Nazi style book burning.

UPDATE: The Waikato Times has not mentioned the ruling on their front page, but have it on an inside page. The front page is devoted to the worthy talents of Miss Whangamata.

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Making shit up on Stuff

August 21st, 2014 at 9:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

If you’ve heard enough about Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book and claims of Judith Collins’ leaking like a sieve to blogger Cameron Slater, you’re not alone.

Rumours doing the rounds on social media yesterday suggested a group of Young Nats in Hamilton might take matters into their own hands and dispose of a large stock of the dreaded book.

It’s not exactly on the same scale as the book burnings of the Nazi regime or the anti-communist McCarthy era but social media was yesterday buzzing with rumours of an imminent book burning at Waikato University.

The head of the Waikato Students’ Union and a former member of the Young Nats is alleged to have bought 202 copies of Hager’s book to burn.

Aaron Letcher has denied the claims, but the leader of NZ First Youth and a Waikato University source, who asked not to be named, said he did.

Letcher said the claims were false.

“There is nothing to it. I saw the allegations on Facebook by a NZ First person”

The Facebook page Letcher was referring to belongs to NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson, who posted: “So apparently, the CNI Young Nats (and, assumedly, the NZ Young Nats) are buying up copies of Nicky Hager’s #DirtyPolitics . . . and burning them.”

Rolinson said he stood by his post.

His claims have been backed by a Waikato University student who saw the books in Letcher’s possession.

Stuff now runs as front page news (and lead story in the Waikato Times I believe) a rumour on Facebook, pushed by the former Head of NZ First Youth?

And people say there is a problem with standards on blogs!

Here’s what I understand to be the story from someone close to Aaron (Aaron has the flu).

  1. Aaron purchased six copies of the book.
  2. He sent five of them to an Embassy in Wellington, where his mother works, as they couldn’t buy any locally. He kept one for himself to read and was probably very disappointed he was not in the book.
  3. Someone saw the six books in his office and decided he must have purchased them for a book burning or some such stupidity and the rumour started

It’s one thing for there to be a rumour on Facebook, but for Stuff to run this as a front page story without a single shred of evidence is just making shit up.

The hilarious thing is Aaron has done lots of stupid crap in his time. But this is not one of them.

I look forward to the prominent retraction by Stuff. Nah, just kidding. I’m not that much of an optimist.

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This is their front page story, taken from Whale Oil. They ran this as their major lead, with graphics and all – on a false Facebook rumour.

I’ve never complained to The Press Council about a story, and don’t want to start. But if anything ever qualified for a complaint, this would.

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Young Nats launch an app

November 11th, 2013 at 1:14 pm by David Farrar

The Young Nats have announced:

Young Nats first in NZ with Smartphone App

 

The Young Nats are the first youth wing in New Zealand to launch a smartphone App for iPhone and Android. 

“We are changing how New Zealanders can connect with politics,” says Young Nats President, Sean Topham.

“Roughly one in every two New Zealanders own a smartphone, and that number is on the rise. It’s the Young Nats who are stepping up and leading the way when it comes to connecting young Kiwis with National,” says Topham.

“Members and supporters up and down the country now have another way of connecting with the latest news and events, as well as taking on an active a role to sign up their friends so that we can build the best grassroots campaign heading into next year’s election,”

The Young Nats worked with the team at Marker Studio to develop the App.

“We’re pretty sure that no political party in New Zealand has done this yet, and for us it’s just the start,” says Topham.

 Download the Young Nats App here:

iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod): http://nzyn.at/17nDtEb

Android: http://nzyn.at/HJmXm8

Good on the Young Nats for this initiative. Almost everyone under 30 has a smartphone, and an app can be a great way to stay in touch with supporters.

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The Right Choice

September 11th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Jordan McCluskey writes at Salient:

I was born into the Labour Party. Not some sort of literal love child between Norman Kirk and Helen Clark, but pretty close. On my mother’s side, my nana was orphaned by the Napier Earthquake, and the election of 1935 which brought the First Labour Government to power gave her hope. My grandfather grew up reasonably wealthy, until the Great Depression ruined his family financially. The First Labour Government gave him a job on the New Zealand Railways, a career and hope for a better life. My father’s parents emigrated from Scotland in 1955. Scots are renowned for being strong supporters of the Labour Party.

As for my folks, they are strong Labour supporters, despite the betrayals of Rogernomics. My mother is a civil servant, my father is a caretaker. Through hard work and clever saving, they have nearly paid off their mortgage. I never felt deprived, but I knew we were not the most well-off family in our street. We were working-class, but aspirational. Like most teenagers, I took my politics initially from my elders. Too young to vote, I spent most of 2005 trying to convince my older classmates not to vote National, because I thought Don Brash was a racist. When I did leave school at the end of Year 13, I chose to go out to work rather than go to university. I didn’t think a degree had much value. Now, nearly at the end of my first one, I can confirm that.

I went out to work full-time, eventually ending up working for a government department. Over about three years, I saw things that could put most people off the virtues of big government. Public servants ignoring the people they were supposed to be helping. People so dependent on the help of the state, they didn’t know any other way to make a living. I was observing with my own eyes that when the government tried to help people, it usually made things worse. It was a sobering confrontation between my bright-eyed left-wing enthusiasm and what government does, or does not, achieve. I was confronting the fact that the ideology I subscribed to did not work in reality. It was at this point that my internal pendulum swung from hard left, to centre left, to just plain centre. I was barely Labour anymore. I was still in denial, believing that as someone who was socially left, but economically nudging right, I could remain a Labour Party supporter.

I finally decided to go to university at Victoria, if for no other reason than to escape my job working for the government. One of the very first things I did was get involved in Young Labour. I went to Young Labour meetings and listened to ideas that I knew would never work in application. Most of them have been tried previously in New Zealand history—an artificially high $18 minimum wage, price controls, intervention in markets, government control of industry, are some examples. I was given a form to join the Labour Party. I pinned it to my wall and stared at it. I could not bring myself to do it. The Labour Party which I was raised to believe had the best interests of all people at its heart, on closer inspection was to me a collection of sectional interests. Labour had become a party made up of narrow sectors of various one-issue activists and trade unionists. It broke my heart. In short, I was losing my religion.

I recall meeting Jordan shortly after he left Young Labour. I asked him why did he leave, and he said it was because they don’t like economic rationalists!

In 2010, I drifted away from the Labour Party, who were on a weekly basis putting forward policies I thought were ridiculous and unworkable. Taking GST off fresh food, which would only provide work for tax accountants. Extending tax credits, which are explicitly for people who do work, to those that don’t work. Working-class people who slogged their guts out, day in day out, would not want more of their taxes going to those who did not work. Nationalising the productive parts of the economy. Discouraged by what the Labour Party had become, I did the unthinkable. I joined the National Party.

A few Young Nats have started off in Young Labour, believe it or not! Not aware of any who have gone the other way recently!

If you asked your average Young Nat why you should join the National Party, the answers are fairly predictable. Go to social events where you might meet the PM. Begin your long slow climb into the corridors of power. Well, I can’t dance, and I swear too much to be a Member of Parliament. To me, it really comes down to freedom. Only in the National Party can you be a supporter of both freedom to marry who you choose (marriage equality) and freedom to associate in a union (voluntary student membership). The National Party supports economic freedom totally, and a considerable amount of members, like myself, support social freedoms. The Labour Party only supports social freedoms, and not economic freedom. 

Well stated.

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MPs on campus

March 13th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Toby Manhire has put together at The Listener an amusing collection of photos of MPs with their youth wings at university campuses around the country.

There has been a real revival in recent years of students getting involved in politics, through their youth wings. I don’t know the numbers for the other parties but understand the Young National signed up 1,500 members over the course of Orientation Week. That’s more members than some parties have in their entire membership!

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Youth United

March 11th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Parliamentary youth reps unanimously back marriage equality

 In an unprecedented joint initiative youth reps from all eight parties in Parliament have combined together to demonstrate the overwhelming support amongst young New Zealanders for same sex couples to be able to marry.

Young Nats Vice President Shaun Wallis said that Young Nats were delighted the majority of National MPs voted in favour of marriage equality at first reading and hope they will continue to do at the second reading this week “Our members overwhelmingly supports marriage equality as we believe in freedom and equal opportunity for all Kiwis.”

Young Labour spokesperson Sam Thompson said that marriage equality and adoption reform are the number one policy priority for Young Labour. “We believe our representatives in Wellington really value equality and a fair go and will continue to support expanding the right to marry to everyone who has a partner they love and want to spend their life with.”

Young Greens spokesperson Izzy Lomax said that the Young Greens were delighted that all 14 Green MPs voted in favour of marriage equality as we believe in a society without discrimination, and look forward to an end to all discrimination against rainbow communities, starting with allowing loving same sex couples to marry”.

“NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson said that NZ First Youth is united in supporting a referendum on this issue. While there is a large and vocal proportion of NZ First Youth who would vote in favour, it is by no means unanimous. We feel that the important thing is for progressive changes in legislation to come with the direct backing and support of the people – not filtered through layers of temporarily empowered politicians and political parties. A referendum is the fairest, most inclusive and democratic method of achieving this. It is our hope that MPs of other parties will realize this and join our call for a referendum.”

Maori Party kaikorero rangatahi Teaonui Mckenzie said that he is proud that all three Maori Party MPs support the right of same sex couples to marry and form a whanau. “This generation will not tolerate any form of discrimination, whether by race, gender or sexual orientation.”

MANA Rangatahi spokesperson Ian Anderson says that “MANA are fully behind the Bill and will work to reduce societal inequality wherever possible, in this case bringing New Zealand law into line to provide the opportunity for same-sex couples to enter marriage.”

Act on Campus President Taylor Warwood said that “Act on Campus have been long-time supporters of marriage equality, and were delighted that ACT MP John Banks voted for Louisa Wall’s bill at its first reading and believe its passage will be entirely consistent with ACT policy of one law for all.”

United Future spokesman Damian Light said that “allowing couples who love each other to marry is just common sense and we’re proud that Hon Peter Dunne, our Party Leader, has been a vocal supporter of this bill. Our support of this bill is consistent with our liberal belief in equality for all.”

“This show of support for marriage equality by every party’s youth wing sends a powerful message. Marriage equality is no longer a question of if, but of when. We can’t wait for Parliament to vote in favour of the Bill.” said Campaign for Marriage Equality Spokesperson Conrad Reyners.

The eight youth reps, representing youth members of parties comprising 120 of the 121 MPs in Parliament believe their combined show of support reflects the over-whelming support for marriage equality amongst younger New Zealanders (76% in favour in Colmar Brunton May 2012 poll).

ENDS

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Youth wings are meant to disagree with their parties sometimes

February 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m a big believer that youth wings of political parties should from time to time disagree with their parties. They are not doing their job if they do not. Their role isn’t just to sell their party to young people, but to represent the views of young people to their party. Sycophancy does neither side a favour.

So I was pleased to see the Young Nationals come out this week with this release:

The Young Nats oppose the Government’s assault on freedom and responsibility as it moves to introduce plain packaging.

“This is just plain populism and nanny state interference all over again. We can’t see how this will actually reduce the harm of smoking” says Young Nats Policy Officer, Megan Hands.

The Young Nats champion individual freedom and personal responsibility.

“All companies should have the right to package their goods as they choose. Buyers should also have the right to exercise their power of consumer choice and absorb the responsibilities that come with such choices” says Hands.

Plain packaging sends a message that it’s acceptable for the Government to interfere wherever and whenever they like.

The Young Nats urge the Government in the strongest terms to consider the values of our party before blindly supporting nanny state antics.

Again, this is a good thing – not a bad thing. Of course, you don’t want your youth wing disagreeing with the parliamentary party constantly – that then becomes destabilising and marginalises you. But sycophancy is just as unhelpful.

So well done Young Nats on speaking up. I don’t agree with everything that have said, but it is good to see them prepared to criticise the Government when they think it has made a wrong decision.

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Raising money for Oxfam

September 28th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

It turns out that the five Labour MPs living on $2.25 a day are not making You Tube videos for WINZ offices on better budgeting but are in fact trying to raise money for charities like Oxfam that try to alleviate poverty in countries where significant numbers do live on under $2.25 a day.

Overall fewer people each year are living in poverty, due to the economic growth of China and India as they have opened up their economies. There are lessons there for other countries.

But I certainly support assistance to those less fortunate, and support a number of charities and also micro-financing organisations such as Kiva, which I’ve made a couple of dozen loans through.

Now you would think five of the most senior Labour MPs would raise a lot of money for people in poverty. So let’s look at their efforts.

The Deputy Leader, Finance Spokesperson, Welfare Spokesperson, Aid Spokesperson and Housing Spokesperson had raised around $1,400 between them, with some as low as just $90. They obviously have not hit their colleagues up enough!

This is less than the just over $1,500 raised by a Dunedin based Young Nat, Varsha Singh.

The challenge finishes at the end of today. Who will have raised more money – half the Labour frontbench, or the Young Nat?

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Guest Post: Shaun Wallis on the Alcohol Purchase Age

August 30th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Shaun Wallis is the NZ Vice-President of the Young Nationals.

Shaun is currently working towards an LLB/BCA (Accounting and Taxation) double degree at Victoria University.

It’s who you are, not how old you are that determines drinking habits. There’s no denying we have a binge drinking culture, and there’s no denying that nearly all of us, young and old have been affected by it in ways large or small.

However, a large number of 18 and 19 year olds that drink responsibly will be scapegoated by the changes to the purchase age. Yet, the New Zealand-wide culture of alcohol abuse will remain…

If we are to tackle binge drinking as a country, we need to change our drinking habits not our drinking age. We know most problem drinkers are over 20. Where is the debate on the harm of drink driving and domestic violence to make New Zealand safer for young and old?

China, the UK, France, Spain and Ireland all have a purchase age of 18. The Germans allow 16 year olds to buy beer and wine, and 18 year olds to buy spirits. Italy has an age of 16 and Denmark allows 16 year olds to buy low-percentage alcohol from stores but not bars, restaurants and discos – and in the sweetest of ironies, the latter reserved for 18 year olds. Yet nearly all of these countries do not experience the abusive culture around alcohol. Fiddling with the purchase age is a red herring, which is why some of our politicians have got it so wrong on alcohol reform.

Better still the drinking habits of young people have improved since we lowered the age from 20 to 18. In 2006, ALAC research found 53% of 12 to 17 year olds were drinkers, but by 2010, only 32% were drinkers. That is a relative 40% drop in the prevalence rate over five years. The age at which young people start drinking has been increasing. In 2006, 35% of young drinkers started before they turned 14. In 2010, it was just 21%. Note this is the proportion of youth drinkers. Of total youth, only 11% start drinking before their 15th birthday. Thus there are positive signs already coming through with our youngest New Zealanders.

So lets focus on the changes in the Alcohol Reform Bill that do matter: It will empower agencies to use measures to regulate licencing responsibly – such as requiring bottle stores near schools to close when school gets out as well as targeting irresponsible supply to minors, requiring parental consent for supply of alcohol to minors based on reasonable grounds. Additionally, it cracks down on those who actively supply to minors, removing their licence/ certificate revoked if prosecuted. We have strong, sensible and practical measures that will address binge drinking across the board, not the age of a few binge drinkers alone.

The split age proposal will push 18 and 19 year olds into more dangerous environments when enjoying a few drinks with friends. No doubt about it – more serious harm and other associated harm occurs in and around licensed premises. Drink spiking, serious assault and sexual harm is more likely to occur in town than in the home of younger drinkers. 1 in 4 people arrested for disorderly behaviour as a result of excess drinking claim that their last drink was on a licensed premises. Even the NZ Law Commission is “not convinced the evidence supports this assumption“.

Why are we telling bar owners and staff to be babysitters of 18/19-year-old drinkers? The State needs to promote the virtues of personal responsibility and self-awareness of alcohol consumption on young drinkers to reduce alcohol abuse. Young drinkers need to understand the risks and manage their own consumption. Yet by limiting the place of alcohol consumption to bars and clubs for 18-19 year olds, the message to control your own drinking is diminished and babysitter functions are imposed on pubs and clubs.

Young rural New Zealanders will be unfairly affected by changing the purchase age. In provincial New Zealand, the days of the local pub have gone, with significantly fewer on-licensed premises. Rather than enjoy a few drinks at home with mates, 18 and 19 year old Kiwis in rural areas will be forced to jump in a car and drive a fair distance to the nearest licensed premises. Given nearly all New Zealanders overwhelmingly see drink driving as extremely dangerous and not acceptable, why would we want to contradict progress?

Lastly, there is a strong rights argument for the case to keep the purchase age at 18. At its most simplest form, if we deem 18 and 19 year olds old enough to move away from home, take a student loan out or start to learn a trade, manage their power, rent, internet, groceries and so on, surely they’re old enough to manage their own drinking habits? We need to promote more personal responsibility, and hence a targeted culture change campaign aimed at energizing individuals to take personal responsibility for their alcohol habits would be much, much more effective at delivering real change than just tinkering with the purchase age.

In sum, changing the purchase age will not have the desired effect of many in favour that seek to achieve. It won’t affect the culture. It won’t change behaviour. It’ll unnecessarily ping the vast majority of sensible 18 and 19 year olds, and I believe Parliament will be called upon again to vote on the purchase age in the future. Let’s not waste our opportunity to break this cycle by focusing on the changes we need to make and stop flogging the age. We can draw circles around the age or we can start making effective changes through good laws and quality education that changes habits and turns our drinking culture around.

The vote/s will be at 5.30 pm today. I really do hope they vote to keep it 18, as we can then move on from this issue, and focus on the other issues around alcohol. If it is increased in part or full to 20, it will remain a contentious issue as young New Zealanders will never accept that they can be working, married, raising kids at 19 but not able to buy wine at the supermarket.

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A Young Nat on marriage equality

August 29th, 2012 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

I’m running two guest posts by Young Nats this week. Tomorrow a guest post on the alcohol purchase age by Shaun Wallis, and today a guest post on marriage equality by Megan Hands.

Megan is the NZ Policy Chair for the Young Nationals. She studies at Lincoln University, is from a dairy farming background and “in her spare time you are likely to find Megan on the sideline of a rugby field, milking cows, or having a few quiet drinks at the local”.

Megan writes:

I was born and raised in rural New Zealand, in what some might describe as a typical or traditional nuclear family, with a mother, father and three younger siblings.

I was raised a Catholic, was educated at a catholic college, and I go to church.

I haven’t got any gay family members.

I like men.

I vote National.

If you believe in stereotypes, you may think I’d oppose marriage equality.

Fortunately stereotypes are just made up expectations of who people are, or what they think.

Let me make this clear: I totally, completely and unreservedly support marriage equality.

I support marriage equality as a proud rural New Zealander

I am extremely proud of my warm upbringing as a rural New Zealander. I now work in a job that services the rural sector; and one day, I’d like to raise my children in rural New Zealand.  I try not to make generalisations, but generally speaking rural people have tended to be quite conservative (on the outside at least).

Before I went to high school in the city, I don’t think I’d ever even come across the concept of people being in same sex relationships and I had certainly never met anyone who was openly gay.  Probably the only thing that I am not so proud of rural New Zealand for is that there is certainly still an heir of traditionalism in some areas. Sometimes traditionalism is great, but when it preserves negative or harmful attitudes I tend to give it the two-finger salute.

I often put lack of tolerance down to a lack of understanding and exposure to diversity. Having lived in several different provinces I have observed that those closer to larger cities tend to be more tolerant and accepting. I also believe that the values of rural communities across New Zealand are consistent with values held by those of us who support marriage equality. Values of community togetherness, strong caring families, love, commitment and equality.

Last week my parents celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. Their wedding anniversary is five days after my birthday, so every year I am reminded of what a great family I have and the fantastic example my parents have set. The success of my parents marriage strongly influences my perspective on what makes a good marriage. I want this opportunity for absolute commitment and mutual affection for both same and opposite sex Kiwi couples.

Marriage is about life-long love and commitment. It is the foundation of a family and about bringing two families together. It is not something that should be entered into lightly. It is the pinnacle of recognising your relationship in a way that is intimate yet deliberately public.

Nothing about life-long commitment, love, the joining or two families is exclusively heterosexual. Under the current law, because I am heterosexual I can choose to either recognise my relationship in law under the civil union legislation, or I can choose to get married. Friends in same sex relationships cannot choose to enter into a marriage in the same way that I can simply because they are gay.

This is wrong. Why would anyone wish to deny couples the joy of standing in front of their friends and family and professing their love for one another; undertaking to an union of shared aspirations and shared promise to experience the joys and burdens of life.

I support marriage equality as a National Party member

A lot of people have asked me why I am so passionately in support of marriage equality if I am straight. My answer is simple. I walked into the local National Party office in 2007 to join up because I believe in the principles of equal citizenship and equal opportunity. Sometimes these principles are merged in the phrase ‘one law for all’. ‘One law for all’ does not have exceptions – it’s not ‘one law for all’ except for this minority, or this other minority; it’s ‘one law for all’ – no ifs, no buts, no apologies. I don’t, or never will, reside from standing up for every Kiwi to be given the equal opportunity to succeed, commit and enjoy life in our great country.

 

But you’re Catholic you say?

The Catholic faith teaches us to love thy neighbour as yourself or do unto others as you would have them do unto you; to be tolerant and accepting; and that God will be the judge of our actions rather than our fellow men on earth.

The second argument is that I believe that we should always legislate for a secular society. The moment we legislate to be consistent with the teachings of a particular faith we erode freedom of religion. To be very clear, the Marriage Equality (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill does not compel churches to permit same sex marriages if they choose not to. In the same way, if churches wish to marry same sex couples they will be free to do so. This Bill gives all churches freedom of choice to determine whether they choose to permit same-sex marriages in accordance with the views of their congregation. I stand up for equal opportunity for all religious institutions.

Conclusion:

Every Kiwi deserves the right to marry the person they love. Marriage is a union between two individuals seeking to build a loving household and economic partnership. It is a union of shared aspirations and shared promise to experience the joys and burdens of life. Society is stronger when two individuals make vows to commit and support each other. By allowing more New Zealand couples to have access to the institution of marriage, we can strengthen marriage as an institution. More committed couples seeking to undertake vows of obligation to one another will only enhance the standing of marriage in the community. I support marriage equality because I am Catholic. I support marriage equality because I’m a rural girl. I support marriage equality because I am a Kiwi.

Thanks to Megan for the post. Comments are welcome of course, but please focus on the issue and arguments, not on anything else.

Incidentally I’m generally happy to run guest posts from people – even on issues where I disagree with them. This particular issue will be on the backburner for a few months, but happy to have posts from both sides once the bill is reported back from select committee (assuming it passes first reading tonight).

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A lonely parody ad

October 27th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Someone in the Southern Young Nats has done a very good parody of Labour’s campaign ad. They’ve timed the voice-over or song-over very nicely.

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Silly Young Nationals

July 31st, 2010 at 9:20 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The board of the National Party will be asked to consider expelling one of its young members.

A falling-out among the Young Nats saw Emma Mellow, 20, barred – and then reinvited – to the party conference this month.

Now some Auckland members have moved to put a motion before the board asking it to throw out the former northern regional chairwoman.

Young Nats president Daniel Fielding confirmed a motion would be put before the board at its meeting next month to consider “allegations” against Ms Mellow.

“There are people that have issues with her and they are discussing that with the board and I suppose expulsion could be one possibility. The only organ in the party that has the power to do that is the board. They haven’t been formally approached yet.”

Oh Good God. The Board, I am sure, will tell the aggrieved parties to stop wasting time trying to screw each other over, and instead spend more time on trying to screw Labour over.

Cactus Kate has her say on it here.

I’m just proud then when I was on the Young Nationals Executive, the only person we ever resolved to ask the Board to expel from the Party was the then Hon Winston Peters.

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National Conference votes to keep it 18

July 17th, 2010 at 4:24 pm by David Farrar

Yay. The main floor of the National Party conference just voted (around 60% in favour) to support a remit calling for the purchase age of alcohol to remain 18, but to enforce current law more effectively.

That’s a huge victory, and big ups to the Young Nationals who spoke well in favour of it. To win over the majority of delegates who are almost all aged over 40 is a great testament to the power of logical argument.

The vote is not binding on MPs (the only MPs I saw with their hands up were David Bennett and Nikki Kaye, but I couldn’t see them all) but it will be of some influence that their own party conference basically said that raising the purchase age was the wrong response to the right problem. There was good discussion that a better course of action is to target supply of alcohol to those aged under 18.

They also after the remit announced the results of the board election, The three candidates elected (in order) were Peter Goodfellow, Roger Bridge and Malcolm Plimmer.

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The race for President

July 15th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The National Party Conference is on this weekend. I am looking forward to it, and will be up in Auckland from this afternoon.

As well as the main conference, the Young Nationals also have their annual conference, including their elections – and they have three candidates standing for the presidency. So the board elections won’t be the only election of interest.

The Young Nats are doing something very laudable – actually having a debate and question and answer session with the three candidates. This will allow YN delegates to hear them in action, before voting. The main party could consider the merits of doing something similar for board elections in future – maybe have a forum on the Friday evening.

The Young Nats debate starts at 10.15 am on Saturday, and I have the job of moderator, as a neutral party. I’ve been having fun working on some of the questions.

The three candidates are campaigning hard also. One has a campaign website, another a Facebook page, and a third has a campaign ad on You Tube which I predict will be used to embarrass him for many years to come.

Great to see a healthy contest for the job, and am looking forward to the debate on Saturday. Any conference attendee can attend the debate, but questions will be restricted to Young Nationals.

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A very interesting meeting

October 7th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

On Monday night, we had a rare meeting of Presidents and leading representatives from Young Labour, Young Nationals, Young Greens and Act on Campus.

It was to discuss some of the options canvassed in the Law Commission’s review of alcohol law, and on top of 15 or so youth reps, we also had executives from the Drug Foundation, Hospitality Association, Lion Nathan and the Law Commission (to observe and provide info).

The four youth sections came together three years ago to (successfully) fight against Parliament’s move to raise the purchase age of alcohol to 20. The idea of the meeting was not just to focus on the purchase age, but consider many of the wider issues and see if there was a consensus on what options they agreed with, and what options they did not think would be effective.

I was involved with the original Keep It 18 campaign, so facilitated the meeting and to a certain degree played Devil’s Advocate on some of the issues. Issues discussed included the purchase age, should there be a drinking age, a split purchase age for on and off licenses, supply of alcohol to minors, restricted hours for off and on licenses, other access issues, excise tax levels, price issues, advertising restrictions, loss leading, blood alcohol limits for driving, open alcohol in cars, should cars have mandatory alcohol ignition locking devices, fake IDs, should drinking or being drunk in public be an offence etc.

I thought the meeting was really good, Not that I agreed with them on all issues, and not that they agreed with each other all the time. But it was a very practical discussion from a group of young people with first hand experience of youth drinking. It was around 50/50 guys and gals, but I didn’t pick up any huge difference in perspectives between the genders. There were some issues where there were differences between “left” and “right” but a surprisingly large number of issues where there was widespread agreement. The result is the four youth sections are going to do a joint submission (which may be a first) on the stuff they agree on, and individual submissions (or minority reports to the main submission) on the issues they have different perspectives on.

Not going to get into details of all the discussion, but there were three parts that stood out to me. They were:

  1. When the current code of practice for alcohol advertising was summarised as banning ads that imply drinking can lead to sexual, sporting or social sucess, there was fairly widespread laughter as an automatic reaction. That was a very instinctive judgement that the current code is not working, or not being rigorously applied by all players. In fact many in the room cited ads that seem to quite specifically imply sexual, sporting or social sucess from drinking.
  2. The discussion on the excise tax and price levels was very economically literate. There was a reasonable consensus that if alcohol use generates external costs (which it does), then there should be an excise tax set to cover the cost of that externality. However they rejected the notion that the tax be increased beyond covering the externality as a way to decrease demand, pointing out that would probably just send people into buying cheaper alcohol per volume (such as spirits). There was of course also reference to the considerable divergence in economists views of what the external costs of alcohol are, and the point was made that any figure used as justification for an increase should be very robust or bulletproof.
  3. Very amusing in the discussion on price and excise tax was the points made by AoC that the real problem is people don’t pay for their own health care and a no faults ACC scheme which caused much merriment. Now to be fair to AoC their points are absolutely valid, but I did have to say I think we can assume that the Government is unlikely to privatise the health system and abolish ACC, so if we taken these as a given, then what is the best way to cover the externalities.

As I said, despite differences on a fair number of issues, it was a very mature and constructive discussion. I was really impressed with those who took part.

Also thanks are due to Labour’s Trevor Mallard (and his secretary) and Iain Lees-Galloway for providing a meeting room at Parliament, and attending (with useful contributions). When it became clear Parliament would be the best place to hold the meeting I considered the easiest way to get an MP to sponsor the meeting. I figured if I approached a National MP they might get worried about any perception of doing me a favour so I e-mailed Trevor on the rationale that no one could ever criticise him for helping me secure a room :-)

As I said, was a really good meeting, and who knows there might be other issues in future they come together on.

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VSM on the agenda

August 20th, 2009 at 5:37 pm by David Farrar

Superb news. Heather Roy’s voluntary student association membership bill (now in the name of Roger Douglas) got drawn from the ballot today.

I’ll be doing a lot of posts on this topic as I have 15 – 20 years worth of research on the pros and cons of VSM.

The Young Nationals and ACT on Campus are excited about the bill being drawn, and no doubt will be campaigning hard for it to be passed.

Very appropriate that the man who gave New Zealand so many of our economic freedoms, may end up also being the person who give students the freedom to choose as individuals whether or not to join a student association.

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Youth Week – Get Involved

June 1st, 2009 at 9:00 pm by David Farrar

Not sure if it was last week or this week, but a great poster campaign from the youth wings of all the parliamentary parties (except Progressive):

yw-drinking-age

yw-environment

yw-student-debt

yw-war-or-peace

Nice posters, but a bit left orientated. Next year I suggest some additional ones:

  • Year 2040, and you open your pay envelope and it shows tax at 70% of your income
  • Year 2040, and Government debt is $380 billion
  • Year 2040 and NZ population is only 500,000 as everyone has gone to Australia
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Oh dear

May 17th, 2008 at 3:28 pm by David Farrar

The highlight of the conference today was the rather huge faux pas by a Young National during the environmental session.

He was asking a question to Nick Smith and was meant to ask about “organisms in water”. Sadly the confused wee boy asked about “orgasms in water”. He has been getting ribbed non stopped since. A large bribe into my bank account has persuaded me not to name him :-)

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