Youth Parliament Review

August 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am by timshiels

The 7th Youth Parliament was held on 16th and 17th of July, where 121 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members converged upon Wellington for two days. I blogged previously a preview of the 2013 Youth Parliament. What follows is an account of my personal experience, a review of the event as a whole, and a defence of the event and the use of taxpayers’ money to fund it.

Some Youth MPs, including myself, were fortunate to travel up to Wellington on Monday, one day before Youth Parliament began. (NB: Unless made necessary by flight schedules, the extra cost of this personal decision was met by the Youth MP his/herself and not by the taxpayer). In Wellington on Monday I received a tour from a member of my MP’s staff. This tour, whilst interesting in itself, was also a reminder about the staff who work for and with the Members. These staff are often naturally neglected or ignored by the public- short of “Hey Clint” moments. I will come back to the merits of Youth Parliament, as I see them, later on in this post but an understanding of the way MPs work (and Government works) is certainly beneficial to New Zealanders, regardless of any desire of one day to be an MP.

In Wellington, I along with some other Youth MPs from Dunedin, also met with staff at Save the Children, and the White Ribbon Campaign. We later encouraged all Youth MPs to wear white ribbons for the duration of the event as a statement condemning violence in all forms. If any of you have seen photos or video of Youth Parliament you will see that this was taken up by almost all MPs.

Tuesday morning began with a Powhiri and Official Opening by HE the Governor General. Many will have seen some controversy around the Powhiri with Sasha Borissenko reporting:

Labour MP Annette King said she was not comfortable with the “segregated nature” of the welcoming.

“In no way would this have happened during Helen Clark’s day,” she said.

Ms King said she would strive for gender equality for future Powhiri’s so that they could “accurately reflect” the House of Representatives.

“A change is long overdue, in my opinion,” she said.

“It was wrong. Some of my colleagues will disagree with me on this one.”

The Official Opening was much less controversial with speeches from the Governor General, Speaker, Minister of Youth Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

YP LC

Sir Jerry remarked that:

In conclusion, you have been given a unique opportunity to learn and to show leadership.  You – our rangitahi – represent our nation’s hopes and ambitions for the future.  One day you will inherit this beautiful country and it will be people like yourselves who will sit in our Parliament and make decisions for the future of our nation and our democracy.

To close, I want to give credit and recognition to those who came to this land; to those who have departed and merged as stars in the heavens; and to those who built the tikanga of our democracy.  In doing so, I will quote from the maiden speech of one of the first women Legislative Councillors, Mary Anderson.  Her quote focuses upon her responsibility in being here, and it applies to MPs otherwise and you Youth MPs:  “I do not look upon myself as a woman in this Chamber … I claim to represent the people”.

Following the official openings Youth Members moved to the Select Committee Rooms. I have already outlined what the Select Committees were to discuss but it is interesting to note what my Select Committee, Commerce, discussed with regards to our inquiry in to online purchasing. There was much contentious debate, and indeed sometimes I appeared to be alone in my views. It was debated whether GST should be applied to online purchases of a value less than $400 (the current minimum level). Whilst it was broadly agreed that it would be nice if GST was applied to all purchases made by New Zealanders, it was seen as difficult to collect. Some argued that Banks should collect GST on online purchases on behalf of the Government, as their objections to this are similar to that of retailers at the time of the introduction of GST. Others argued that the online retailers should collect the GST on behalf of the New Zealand Government, though issues of lack of jurisdiction and authority broadly counted this out. Internet safety was also discussed. Despite my suggestions that the burden of responsibility should be on the consumer, or the retailer if they desire to offer the service, the committee agreed that the Government should fund an advertising campaign to promote safe online practises.

Youth MPs also attended the caucus rooms of the Party whose MP selected them. In the Government caucus room, we discussed the role of MPs from the city and country, decisions around conscience issues, and Paul Foster Bell enlightened us as to what it was like to be a new MP.

In the evening, a “social event” was held. This received live coverage from Seven Sharp (something that I will mention shortly). Speeches were given, including from the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Youth Affairs, and it was generally a chance for Youth MPs to ‘get to know’ Adult MPs.

On the Wednesday, the real business of the House took place. I have made the Hansard of the day available here, so there is no point summarising exactly what happened at the event- although I do want to point out some aspects.

The Electoral Law Reform Bill, was much more controversial than I expected. Perhaps the most controversial aspect was the section that compelled all eligible New Zealanders to vote. Seamus Barnett from Palmerston North summarised this as:

Democracy lies at the heart of what it means to be human. The ability to choose your leader and to have freedom of choice is something that can be taken for granted, yet it is what differentiates us as people. We must have this inviolable right to choose, whether it be to choose a Prime Minister, a local MP, or to choose not to vote. New Zealand, as a progressive nation, must be seen to be upholding this freedom to choose. I believe that enforcing compulsory voting violates this right and therefore must not be allowed to occur. Voting epitomises freedom of choice, and compulsory voting is the antithesis of our democratic ideal. People must be allowed to choose not to vote, for whatever  personal reasons, and the Government cannot interfere in what can be a very personal decision.

Peniata Endemann  argued however:

We all have that friend who does not vote but who always moans aboutJohn Key and thinks it is OK. It is not OK. We must introduce compulsory voting to help these people. This way it will require them to go to the polling booth, have their say, and make it OK for them to moan about the Prime Minister.

Many YMPs (including me) voted against this Bill despite supporting some aspects. I am strongly in favour of a 4 year term, and not completely opposed to electronic voting as an option over time; but did not support the lowering of the age or compulsion to vote. The Bill failed 80-35 (with 3 abstentions).

Following the Legislative Debate, the General Debate was held. As with Parliament, the General Debate speeches could be of any topic of a YMP’s choosing. Jordan Brown, the Youth MP selected by Hon. Pita Sharples, delivered his speech completely in Maori.

I stand in this House as a representative of your people and of the youth as well. Like that leader Martin Luther King, I have a huge dream. My real passion is that the indigenous language of New Zealand is able to be spoken regardless who you are or where you are from. In time I want to go from my mainstream school to the Te Kōtuku secondary school to talk to my science teacher, history teacher, all my teachers. I want to go to the supermarket and to speak to the staff there in the chiefly language. Despite the Māori language being the indigenous language of New Zealand and a treasure of this land, very few people know how to speak Māori. What a repulsive situation that is.

A truly forceful speech!

Hanna Deal, from the Port Hills, delivered her speech completely in New Zealand Sign Language (with the aid of an interpreter):

It is very important for New Zealand youth to be aware of the Deaf community. I hope some of you would like to learn New Zealand Sign Language and get to know a variety of different cultural elements. Remember that technology can assist communication between me and you. I am Hannah. I am deaf and I am proud of it.

Immediately following that speech, Jay Evett, Youth MP for Hutt South, gave one of the most controversial speeches of the day when he called for the abolition of the Maori seats in Parliament. The speech ended in a walk out staged by some Maori members of Youth Parliament, (presumably) in protest over Jay’s own personal views.

JAY EVETT: No, not Labour. However, this was withdrawn at the request of the Māori Party. A referendum was promised in 2011 on the matter, but, like many things in politics, it was never fulfilled. I implore on behalf of New Zealanders everywhere that the current Government follows through with the promised referendum, if not the integration of the seats.This member fully believes in the importance of Māori traditions and culture. However, positive discrimination is not the way forward, and it is worse when it is endorsed by central government—

Eru Kapa Kingi: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would just like to let everyone know that he is not of Māori descent, so what he is saying—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is not a point of order. If we are going to get points of order raised, I will listen to them, but if they are frivolous points of order designed to interrupt a member’s speech, I will have no hesitation in asking that member to leave the Chamber for the rest of the debate. Jay Evett, you have an additional 30 seconds if you require it, in view of the fact that you were interrupted.

JAY EVETT: It is time that we took the bold first step to addressing constitutionalracism in this country. Governor Hobson, upon signing the Treaty of Waitangi, madehis intentions for our nation well-known: “He iwi tahi tātou.”—we are one people. Let the Government finally honour this message and readdress the issue of separate Māori seats within the next parliamentary term. Thank you.
Callum Lo delivered an equally (but more surprisingly) controversial when he called for an end to violence against the mentally ill, resulting in a further walkout following this exchange:

Disabled people face social barriers in schools, in workplaces, and in public. In 1988, Tītewhai Harawira, Hone Harawira’s mother, was found guilty of physically abusing a mental health patient in a health unit that she was in charge of.

Michael Fryer: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He is referencing a member of Parliament. That is insulting.
Mr SPEAKER : No, no. The reference was to a person around a conviction. It is not a matter now before the court. The member is quite in order to make that reference that he has made.
CALLUM LO: I will resume. It was a mental health unit that she was in charge of.How she justifies this to herself and how she sleeps at night I have no idea.
David has already written about the third, and largest, walkout of the day. I commented on that post as follows:
I was (am) a Youth MP, and will be blogging more fully on my experience on Monday morning. Despite(?) being a strong supporter of Marriage Equality and submitting to the Select Committee on the Bill, I did not walk out. I thought the walk out was immature and pathetic. Without falling in to the cliche of quoting Voltaire, she was just as entitled to hold her views against the reforms, as I am to hold views for the reforms.Despite strongly disagreeing with what she said, I participated in applause for her afterwards. She showed determination and a willingness to speak up for her views, something that did not deserve a “walkout” over. This is what makes Youth Parliament a better event than what too many people think. Strong and passionate debate about issues that matter- not just to youth, but to all New Zealanders.
All three walkouts were pathetic, immature and unhelpful. It is partly this which gives Youth Parliament a bad name. We expect fierce debate at an event like this, but to walk out in that manner only belittles the debate, and inevitably the issue. After all- it is NZ Parliament not the UN!
The last speech I will quote is my own (there has to be some benefits to this gig!). In it, I call for a change in the laws around Organ Donation in New Zealand. It is something I feel very strongly about, something I want to change in New Zealand. I am pleased to see Georgina Beyer joining me on One News last night!
TIM SHIELS (List): It gives me great pleasure to rise in this distinguished Chamber today to talk about something that is very important to me, and something that I hope will soon be very important to you. It is time New Zealand had an open discussion about the issue of organ donation. For too long there has been some sort of taboo around discussing this, and I hope this will change.
I have a particular passion for organ donation awareness, as last year my beloved 20-year-old sister died whilst on a waiting list for a donated liver. I tell this story not to elicit sympathy or to pull the grief card, but merely to explain the dramatic effect that organ donation, or a lack thereof, can have on people.
The rate of deceased organ donation in New Zealand is appalling, and it is much lower than in many other countries in the world. Something needs to be done about this.Although many people think that selecting “donor” on their driver’s licence means that the organs will be automatically donated upon their death, this is not the case. It is thed eceased person’s family who make the decision. It is time we had a discussion, as a nation, about this.
There needs to be further support for live organ donors, as well. This is something that the Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill, the member’s bill formerly in the name of my adult MP, the Hon Michael Woodhouse, would do. This is something that I urge all my fellow youth members of Parliament to talk to their adult MPs about,in order to get more support.
Wales has recently introduced an opt-out system of organ donation. This is where allWelsh citizens are automatically organ donators unless they opt out, which is something many people will want to do for spiritual or cultural reasons. Such a system in NewZealand would change attitudes towards organ donation and further increase the number of people who choose to donate their organs upon their death.
I strongly hope that some fellow honourable Youth Parliament members will join me in my call for a change in Government policy on this matter.
All and all, Youth Parliament was an extremely rewarding experience. It is nothing like what some of the commentators here on Kiwiblog think it is, or how it was portrayed in a sloppy report on Seven Sharp. It is a forum where young New Zealanders can discuss the issues that matter to them and their communities. It is an event when young people can gain an understanding and appreciation of politics. These young people will not all become MPs, nor do they all want to- another lie perpetuated by commentators. The official photos and videos for the event can be found here. I am happy to have any questions asked of me in the comments below- I will do my best to respond in a similar manner to the question!
 
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The Youth Parliament Walkout

August 2nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Winona D’Costa reported last week:

Going into youth parliament not a single Youth MP could have predicted that there would be a walk-out during a fellow Youth MP’s speech.

Speaking on the recent passing of the Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill , Kura Waller Youth MP for Te Ururoa Flavell chose to take a stand against the bill.

In protest the majority of the Youth MPs walked out during Kura’s speech. This goes to show that Youth MPs really did receive the whole experience of being a real MP walk-out included. Like any regular politician she bravely carried on voicing her opinion despite staring at a now almost empty debating chamber.

I think those Youth MPs who walked out made a bad mistake, and undermine exactly what Parliament is for – to debate issues and views. Unless someone is up there advocating genocide or the like, you should listen to what they say, and if you disagree with it – respond to it.

Walking out is a sign of intolerance.  I thought the speech by Kura Waller was pretty ridiculous as she claimed the Lion King said gay people can’t reproduce (it didn’t, and they can) and she also said she was never told by her kuia and koroua that being gay was OK – which is more hostile to gays than what the Pope recently said. So I thought her speech was pretty bad, but again the far far far better response would have been a Youth MP responding to the speech than an intolerant walkout.

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Youth Parliament Preview

July 15th, 2013 at 9:00 am by timshiels

As David has previously mentioned, the 2013 Youth Parliament is to be held this Tuesday and Wednesday. I was lucky enough to be selected by the Hon. Michael Woodhouse MP to be his representative at the event this week. I am also lucky to have been given the opportunity to post here on Kiwiblog about the event.

On Tuesday, following a  formal welcome at Parliament, Youth MPs will go to their respective Select Committees to discuss the following topics:

  • Social Services- How can public expectations for social services be balanced against likely rising costs for these services
  • Health-Are young people taking enough responsibility for reducing and preventing substance abuse or should this be government’s role?
  • Transport and Industrial Relations- What are the barriers to young people entering employment across New Zealand workplaces and how can these be addressed?
  • Local Government and Environment- Should government restrict or permit private businesses profiting from conservation activities?
  • Education and Science- Compulsory vs. elective subjects in secondary schools – should subjects like science be compulsory?
  • Commerce- Purchasing online: supporting modern consumerism
  • Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade- Where should New Zealand’s international obligations lie – Pacific or wider afield
  • Justice- White collar vs blue collar offending: do current sentences reflect the economic and social impacts of these crimes?
  • Maori Affairs-  As more iwi move towards a post-settlement environment, how do rangatahi see the role of iwi in supporting the development of the next generation?
  • Primary Production-  Can New Zealand afford to be free range?

I am pleased to be in the Commerce Select Committee where we will be discussing a topic that is currently getting a lot of media attention. All the topics, however, are substantive and should lead to debate.

The main events of Wednesday are held in the Debating Chamber. Question Time will be held at 10.30 am and Youth MPs will have the opportunity to ask questions of Ministers.

Following Question Time, the Legislative Debate will be held (12.45pm). The Mock Bill, which would:

  • reduce the voting age from 18 years to 17 years
  • include electronic voting to the methods of voting
  • make voting compulsory for all eligible voters
  • extend the Term of Parliament from three years to four.

will be debated and then voted upon.

Following this, a General Debate on any topic of the Youth MP’s choosing will be held (3.20pm).

The day will conclude with Notices of Motion, put forward by Youth MPs (5.00pm).

If anyone wants to give feedback or ideas to the Youth MPs they can do so in the comments below, or by using the hashtag, #nzyouthparliament on Twitter or Facebook. Those in Wellington on Wednesday are invited to attend the public gallery, by following the normal process.

I will also be posting a summary of events at Youth Parliament later in the week.

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2013 Youth Parliament

May 9th, 2013 at 2:44 pm by David Farrar

Youth Parliament is every three years, and will be 16 and 17 July this year. I think it is an excellent initiative to promote civic awareness among younger New Zealanders.

The major topic for Youth Parliament will be electoral reform. Youth MPs will debate a bill that:

  • reduces the voting age from 18 years to 17 years
  • includes electronic voting to the methods of voting
  • makes voting compulsory for all eligible voters
  • extends the Term of Parliament from three years to four.

Also select committees will consider the following issues:

  • How can public expectations for social services be balanced against likely rising costs for these services?
  • Are young people taking enough responsibility for reducing and preventing substance abuse or should this be government’s role?
  • What are the barriers to young people entering employment across New Zealand workplaces and how can these be addressed?
  • Should government restrict or permit private businesses profiting from conservation activities?
  • Compulsory vs. elective subjects in secondary schools – should subjects like science be compulsory?
  • Purchasing online: supporting modern consumerism
  • Where should New Zealand’s international obligations lie – Pacific or wider afield
  • White collar vs blue collar crimes: do current sentences reflect the economic and social impacts of these crimes?
  • As more iwi move towards a post-settlement environment, how do rangatahi see the role of iwi in supporting the development of the next generation?
  • Can New Zealand afford to be free range?

The list of the 121 Youth MPs and 20 youth press gallery members is here.

If any Youth MP or youth press gallery member wants to do a guest post/s at Kiwiblog detailing their experiences with Youth Parliament, just let me know. I can arrange a guest login.

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2013 Youth Parliament

February 19th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The 2013 Youth Parliament is on 16 and 17 July 2013.

All 121 MPs will select a Youth MP, plus there will be 10 Youth Press Gallery members. It’s a great opportunity for young people interested in politics.

If you are aged between 16 and 18 you are eligible to be a Youth MP. Each MP will make a selection as they see fit. Most run some sort of application process and judging contest.

Don’t be shy. If you don’t apply, you can’t be considered.

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Youth MPs 2009

April 22nd, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Congratulations to 122 Youth MPs, who have been selected for the Youth Parliament. They are:

Nominating MP Party Youth MP School or Organisation
Amy Adams National Hannah Singh Darfield High School
Hon Jim Anderton Progressive Nathan Jones Burnside High School
Jacinda Ardern Labour Allanah Colley Western Springs College
Shane Ardern National Gareth Power-Gordon New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Chris Auchinvole National Tessa Farley Golden Bay High School
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi National Akash Rampal Auckland University
Hon Rick Barker Labour Benjamin Carpenter Central Hawke’s Bay College
Carol Beaumont Labour Cameron Jacob-Sauer One Tree Hill College
David Bennett National Michael Hawley Hamilton Boys’ High School
Hon Paula Bennett National Sunil Datt Sharma Waitakere College
Dr Jackie Blue National Rebecca Quansah Lynfield College
Chester Borrows National Jiaxin Zhou Wanganui High School
John Boscawen ACT Hazzel Brown Otahuhu College
Simon Bridges National Danielle Lucas Tauranga Girls College
Hon Gerry Brownlee National Anna Rumbold St Margaret’s College
Brendon Burns Labour Billy Clemens Papanui High School
Dr Campbell Calder National Hannah Lai Manurewa High School
Hon Chris Carter Labour Ikkichok Dam Auckland University
Hon David Carter National Alexander Summerlee Canterbury University
Hon John Carter National Carolyn Henry Kaitaia Abundant Life School
Hon Steve Chadwick Labour Benjamin Hingston Rotorua Lakes High School
Charles Chauvel Labour Andrew Coutts Onslow College
Dr Ashraf Choudhary QSO Labour Shameela Nassery Rutherford College
David Clendeon Green Phoebe Balle Western Springs College
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman National Alice Markie Birkenhead College
Hon Judith Collins National Kerri Duthie Papakura High School
Hon Clayton Cosgrove Labour Holly Tullett Rangiora High School
Hon David Cunliffe Labour Joel Walshman Avondale College
Clare Curran Labour Talia Marama Ellison Queens High School
Hon Lianne Dalziel Labour Joseph Chamberlain Aranui High School
Kelvin Davis Labour Tony Davis
Jacqui Dean National Ella Borrie Cromwell College
Catherine Delahunty Green Sarah Darroch Onehunga High School
Hon Sir Roger Douglas ACT Andrew Broady-Clark ACG Parnell College
Hon Peter Dunne United Future Kieren Gera Tawa College
Hon Ruth Dyson Labour Benezair Kumar Van Asch Deaf Education Centre
Hon Bill English National Emily Bowden South Otago High School
Darien Fenton Labour Jenny Zhang Carmel College
Hon Christopher Finlayson National Jason Hart Scots College
Te Ururoa Flavell Maori Denise Cribb Rotorua Lakes High School
Craig Foss National Brittany Kershaw Flaxmere College
David Garrett ACT Jack Watling Campion College
Aaron Gilmore National Timothy Robinson St Bede’s College
Hon Phil Goff Labour Shruthi Vijayakumar Auckland University
Jo Goodhew National Georgia Robertson Ashburton College
Sandra Goudie National Caitlin Wiseman Hauraki Plains College
Dr Kennedy Graham Green Portia Allen Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti
Hon Tim Groser National Justine Crabb Westlake Girls College
Hon Nathan Guy National Caleb Iago-Ward Horowhenua College
Kevin Hague Green Brittany Packer
Hone Harawira Maori Te Niiwai Mutu Kura Kaupapa o Te Rangi
Aniwaniwa
Hon George Hawkins Labour Roberta Faitele James Cook High School
John Hayes National Lisa Hansen
Hon Phil Heatley National Vishakham Joseph Whangarei Girls High School
Hon Tau Henare National Javier Mihaere Rutherford College
Hon Rodney Hide ACT Edward McKnight Dilworth School
Chris Hipkins Labour Chelsea Torrance Chilton Saint James School
Hon Pete Hodgson Labour Mark Currie Kavanagh College
Hon Parekura Horomia Labour Hineteariki Parata-Walker Tolaga Bay Area School
Gareth Hughes Green Rick Zwann Northcote College
Hon Darren Hughes Labour Kieran Welsby Otaki College
Raymond Huo Labour Meaghan Li Macleans College
Dr Paul Hutchison National Neelam Hari Pukekohe Christian School
Hon Shane Jones Labour Hayley Gilchrist Dargaville High School
Hon Steven Joyce National Natasha Pratt Rangitoto College
Rahui Katene Maori Turei-Haamiora Ormsby Hutt Valley High School
Nikki Kaye National Danielle Maclean St Mary’s College Auckland
Sue Kedgley Green Jack McDonald Kapiti College
Hon John Key National Sylvie Admore Carmel College
Hon Annette King Labour Alasdair Macleod Scots College
Colin King National Amy Halligan Marlborough Girls’ College
Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban Labour Seina Abera Mana College
Melissa Lee National Sarah Oh Kristin School
Iain Lees-Galloway Labour Anna Hamer-Adams Palmerston North Girls High School
Keith Locke Green Harry Lusk King’s College
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga National Monisha Singh Onehunga High School
Tim Macindoe National Freeman Lambert-Ehu Hamilton’s Fraser High School
Moana Mackey Labour Rory McCourt Lytton High School
Hon Nanaia Mahuta Labour Rawiri Biel Nga Taiatea Wharekura
Hon Trevor Mallard Labour Thomas Maharaj St Bernard’s College
Hon Dr Wayne Mapp National Siale Mann Westlake Girls College
Todd McClay National Tania Tapsell Waiariki Insitute of Technology
Hon Murray McCully National Abbey Kendall Long Bay College
Sue Moroney Labour Lydia McKinnon
Stuart Nash Labour Cameron Price Napier Boys’ High School
Dr Russel Norman Green Bethany Matthers Avonside Girls High School
Hon Damien O’Connor Labour Amanda Eggers Golden Bay High School
Hekia Parata National Maxwell Scott Aotea College
Hon David Parker Labour Christopher Kennedy James Hargest College
Allan Peachey National Vaigna Pahulu Tamaki College
Lynne Pillay Labour Kelsey Sarah Illing Henderson High School
Hon Simon Power National Shaun Welsh Rangitikei College
Dr Rajen Prasad Labour Shail Kaushal Mt Roskill Grammar School
Paul Quinn National Robert Whitefield St Patrick’s College Silverstream
Hon Mita Ririnui Labour Tihema Baker Victoria University
H V Ross Robertson Labour Giovanna Sua McAuley High School
Grant Robertson Labour Jill Campbell Wellington Girls College
Hon Heather Roy ACT Lynn Chen Lynfield College
Eric Roy National Stuart Kruger Southland Boys’ High School
Hon Tony Ryall National Cory Dixon Tauranga Boys College
Carmel Sepuloni Labour Thoraya Abdul-Rassol Kelston Girls College
Katrina Shanks National Rakai Parata Gardiner Wellington Girls College
Hon Dr Pita Sharples Maori Eden Webester Auckland Girls Grammar
David Shearer Labour Joshua Harvey Mount Albert Grammar School
Su’a William Sio Labour Marietalini Ropeti-Iupeli Mangere College
Hon Dr Lockwood Smith National Ben Porteous Orewa College
Hon Dr Nick Smith National Fleur Schouten Nelson College for Girls
Hon Maryan Street Labour Johny O’Donnell Nelson College for Boys
Hon Georgina te Heuheu QSO National Kataraina Tuatini
Lindsay Tisch National Camilla Holmes Morrinsville College
Hon Anne Tolley National Emma Lucas Whakatane High School
Chris Tremain National Jordan Anderson Sacred Heart College Napier
Metiria Turei Green Lisa Nyman Otago Girls’ High School
Hon Tariana Turia Maori Kātene Morris Te Kura-aiiwi o Whakatupuranga
Rua Mano
Phil Twyford Labour Amelia MacDonald Takapuna Grammar
Louise Upston National Tay-Jana Brown Forest View High School
Nicky Wagner National Lorna Donnelly Linwood College
Hon Kate Wilkinson National Callum Bell Kaiapoi High School
Hon Maurice Williamson National Nadia Ali Macleans College
Hon Pansy Wong National Joseph Xulué Sancta Maria College
Michael Woodhouse National Katya Curran St Hilda’s Collegiate School
Jonathan Young National Paige Muggeridge New Plymouth Girls’ High School

Having done a quick tally there appear to be 66 girls and 56 guys, which is quite a difference from the main Parliament. However this is based on some educated guesses using christian names, and it may vary a bit from my calculation.

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Free Trade vs Free Aid

March 28th, 2010 at 3:50 pm by David Farrar

Amelia MacDonald of Takapuna Grammar has been selected as Phil Twyford’s Youth MP for this year’s Youth Parliament. Each of the 11 contenders had to do a short video on “what they thought NZ should do to make the world a safer, fairer and more sustainable place”, according to Phil at Red Alert.

Amelia’s video is above. I want to argue an alternative point of view to what Amelia advocated. Now if people comment, I don’t want any negative comments on Amelia – just a discussion of the topic. Personally I’m a huge fan of young people taking an interest in politics, and think the Youth Parliament is an excellent way to foster this. Anyone who gets to be selected as a Youth MP, has my respect – even if I disagree with their views.

Incidentally I thought her video was very quirky and well done. But turning to the substance:

I actually agreed with her on the need for armed intervention in Sudan. But sadly China blocks UN action there – one of the problems of needing a UN mandate.

Amelia calls for fair trade, but says this should happen through education, not through cutting off ties with China. Now while I think fair trade is more a slogan than anything else, I am pleased to see realism that cutting trade links is not the way to go.

At 3:50 Amelia says we need to stop importing so much un-necessary stuff, and asks why on earth is it necessary to be importing oranges from California when Kerikeri can do it perfectly well.

This is where I seriously disagree with the notion that importing is bad. But before we talk importing generally, let me address the specific – one reason we import Oranges from California is because they are seasonal, and that is the only way to get them 12 months a year.

More generally one country’s imports is another export’s. If we take a position that one should discourage imports, then we are asking for our dairy, lamb and wool exports to be blocked by other countries.

But more importantly it is about comparative advantage. Let’s use an example of apples and oranges for the US and California. If NZ produce apples for $1/kg and the US produces apples for $2/kg, while NZ produces oranges for $3/kg and the US does oranges for $2/kg also.

The best use of resources is for NZ to produce apples and the US to produce oranges.

Amelia says “less importing means more money for our economy to be spent elsewhere”. This is not always the case. Often NZ will be better off importing something, and exporting something else.

Amelia goes on to say that the money saved from importing can be used to increase aid for developing countries.

My view is that free trade would do far more for developing countries that free aid. The EU and US have massive protectionism in place against imports from developing countries, and that the best thing they could do for Africa, would be allow them to sell their goods in Europe – even if it undercuts local suppliers.

Why have China and India reduced massively the number of citizens they have in absolute poverty, compared to Africa? Because they have freed up their economic, and embraced trade.

This is why even left wing parties like Labour, sign free trade deals with China. Because trade benefits people in both countries.

While well intentioned, I don’t think the solution for poverty in Africa is to trade less, and give more aid. I think it is to trade more, and allow countries to become sustainable without aid. Singapore used to receive aid, as did Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. Aid is necessary for many countries, but it is not a long-term solution. The long-term solution is good governance, property rights (to attract investment) and trade.

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