Is it time to abolish Youth Parliament?

I have been a huge fan of Youth Parliament for the last 20+ years. I have cheerleaded for it, I have reported on it, I have encouraged Youth MPs and journalists. I love the idea of giving young New Zealanders an opportunity to experience being an MP.

But I was dismayed to see TVNZ report:

More than half of this year’s Youth MPs walked out of the debating chamber in response to a fellow participant’s speech on gun rights at Youth Parliament on Wednesday.

The walkout was planned before the speech by 10 to 15 Youth MPs.

I’m sorry, but if half the Youth MPs think that Youth Parliament is about walking out because you disagree with what someone says, then it is time to scrap Youth Parliament. Let them get together and form a school debating club.

What a terrible terrible signal for Youth MPs to send, that they stage a media stunt of a walk out, rather than listen to what someone says, and respond to it.

I also understand that someone (I do not know who) decreed that Youth MPs were not allowed to caucus by party. They were allowed to caucus by their race, their sexual orientation, their gender etc but not by political party. I’m sorry but a Parliament without political parties is absurd. Who made the decision to ban party caucusing?

Anyway as I said I have been a huge huge fan of Youth Parliament. But if it just becomes a forum for media stunts and walkouts, then it has outlived its purpose and should be abolished.

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