With the 2020 election coming up, The Public Policy Club interviewed the youth wing leaders to find out why they think they deserve your vote.
Why should students and young people vote for your party at this election?
Felix, President of Young ACT: “If you want a right-wing government, but you also support quite social liberal policies, then the ACT party is for you. We’re kind of like National except, we don’t care if you smoke pot, we support euthanasia, and Seymour is pro-choice. So if you want your vote to go reliably to socially progressive issues while supporting right-wing government, then ACT is the party for you.”
Natalie, Co-convener of Greens on Campus: Voting for Greens is a vote against Climate Change. The Greens Clean Energy Plan will combat climate change by reducing the cost of solar panel installation and implementing a clean energy industry training plan. Other climate policies include electric car affordability and working with local iwi, hapū and communities in climate action responses. As this is the generation who is going to have to deal with the impacts of climate change, the Greens will be the party to make stronger climate legislation.
Jay, President of Young NZF: “We need to back our future so that ten years down the track we live in a society that is flourishing and sustainable. We want to invest in infrastructure to support not just a growing economy, but also a growing society. So if you want an insurance policy and an insurance vote come September 19th, party vote New Zealand First. We’ll ensure that the stupid left ideas and the far-right stupid ideas don’t get through.”
Artie, President of T.O.P on Campus: If you want a party who cares more about policy than playing the party politics game, vote for T.O.P. Ti Tiriti O Waitangi will be at the heart of NZ politics with T.O.P’s constitutional policies. T.O.P also prioritises environmental policies. The party’s environmental action policies include stopping the use of fossil fuels by 2050 and ensuring new investments take into account NZ’s low carbon future.
Aryana, Chair of Northern National: “Jobs. I’m really concerned about the number of people without work, and those trying to find jobs who are encountering hiring freezes. To get more jobs, we need business confidence, and we know how to put policy forward to get businesses going.” National has announced a range of infrastructure projects and policies to encourage people to start up their own businesses such as BusinessStart and JobStart.
Adam, President of Princes Street Labour: Voting for Labour is a vote for a government focused on creating a sustainable future. Labour will continue to work with farmers to reduce primary industry emissions and create 11,000 jobs to restore our environment; including waterways and predator control. Furthermore, investments in the electric vehicle sector will encourage innovation and move toward emissions-free roads.
Young people don’t turn out to vote at the same rate as older people, why do you think this is? What do you think should be done about it?
Felix: “I think it’s because young people feel like they aren’t adequately represented by people in politics. The people in our parliament own property, they are very wealthy, and their lives aren’t in any way comparable to the lives of students. I think the way to get young people involved in politics is to have young people in positions of authority, so young people’s interests and concerns are heard. I actually think ACT has been quite successful in this area, putting young people forward, as we have relatively young leaders.”
Natalie: Politicians can seem unapproachable to the average person. The Greens on Campus brings MPs and candidates on to the campus to remedy this. Currently, the schooling system neglects a civics education that teaches young people that their vote, their participation, does make a difference. Under the Greens education policy civics education is encouraged, with topics on the NZ parliamentary system, law, human rights and cultural understanding.
Jay: The reason why a lot of young people don’t vote is that there’s nobody that represents them. Young New Zealand First took the approach of focusing on non-university students as well. We had to break away from the rhetoric of thinking that you have to be a skinny white kid from university to join a youth wing. So we have been going to the regions where other parties have forgotten, saying to these people, New Zealand First is here for you.”
Artie: Creating motivation to get involved is important. Providing alternative forms of civics engagement would provide this motivation. T.O.P’s deliberative democracy policies include installation of collaborative softwares, participatory budgeting and citizens juries/assemblies. This will hopefully stop the notion that everyone has ‘just one vote’ and that it doesn’t have an impact. Furthermore, T.O.P’s civics education policy will teach students their rights and duties, as to not get influenced by elites and to understand how they can engage with the political system.
Aryana: “I think one thing is that sometimes people feel like their vote doesn’t make a huge change. They go, ‘what’s my vote really going to do?’ and they aren’t really familiar with the political system. I just think increasing political discussions maybe, and just talking about how important it is to vote in school. I’d like to allow the main parties into schools so that they can have these discussions. If we let all the parties in, then schools can stay a-political right?”
Adam: Politics can be inaccessible to some. This can stem from a lack of civics education in schools. Furthermore, a lack of habit can cause youth to vote less than their older counterparts. Young Labour have a policy that would see the voting age reduced from 18 to 16. This is seen as a way to create youth voting habits at a younger age.
If your party was to get into government post-election, how would the life of a young person or student change? What effect would that have on their life?
Felix: “The biggest thing would be RMA (Resource Management Act) reform. Young people care a lot about housing, and RMA reform will increase housing supply and bring down prices.”
“Students might also see an end to fees-free and lower taxes, or at least all taxes will remain the same.” ACT have said they would stop any tax increases, and to cut the 48-70k tax rate from 30% to 17.5%. “We’re going to end up taking on probably $140 billion in debt, something that is going to have to be paid back by us and our generation. An ACT government would make it a high priority to reduce that debt.”
Natalie: The Greens Guaranteed Minimum Income policy will benefit students. A guaranteed income of $325 a week would replace the current student allowance. However, for most students, it is higher than their current payments, increasing their weekly income. This will include part-time and post-grad students who often don’t qualify for student allowances. These policy changes would also ease stress for those who have left uni and are new in the workforce.
Jay: “Like it says in our slogan ‘back your future’. When we invest $3 billion into our region’s, this isn’t just investing in farmers and investing in infrastructure. What it’s doing is it’s investing into a future generation of farmers and workers.” New Zealand First has also said that the bottom line of any coalition involving them would be that they get the immigration portfolio. “Young New Zealanders are now fed up with how immigration has been an absolute joke in previous years from both sides.”
Artie: T.O.P’s UBI is a policy that will generally see students better off. The T.O.P UBI will see everyone over the age of 18 receive $13,000 annually. Working out at $250 a week, if your current allowance payments are less or you do not receive allowances you will be better off. Students will further enjoy T.O.P’s other climate policies which include the removal of oil exploration subsidies and strengthening the emissions trading scheme.
Aryana: “Back under National when people talked about staying in New Zealand post-uni they knew that they were going to have opportunities to succeed, and have a really great future here in New Zealand. So I think when Judith crushes it and becomes Prime Minister, she will make sure those are the things being said. I think you’ll see things like that infrastructure plan flourishing, and a lot of investment into facilities across the scale to really enable us to be the best country we can be.”
Adam: Labour will continue to increase the minimum wage, which will benefit student workers; both during and post-study. The rental and flat policy is another area that Labour will continue to work on. Labour’s Healthy Homes Guarantee requires minimum standards for heating and insulation, giving students healthier living situations.
Did any of the youth leaders offer enough to win your vote? Too soon to call?
If you’d like to hear more from any of the youth leaders, head to https://publicpolicyclub.com/blog/ where you can read or listen to the full interviews.
**Baby Back Benches has been postponed to a later date due to COVID-19. Please see the event page on Facebook for updates**