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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

There are certain seats you never expect to sit in

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

youthplogoAll is not lost! We might not always admit it, but we know that there is more in the cabinet than interestingly shaped bottles of liqueur. We know that parties are more than just the things banned on ball night. We, the youth of New Zealand, know that the speaker is not always the one talking. Politics is not something generally associated with youth, but you would be surprised how many young people have an opinion. I can say with absolute certainty at least 112.

On the July 6-7 the average age of a Member of Parliament (MP) dropped by roughly half a century, when112 youth representatives converged on the Beehive. Every one of these young people was chosen by a MP to represent them in the 2010 New Zealand Youth Parliament. The event was a full two days where we participated in a range of parliamentary procedures, including select committee meetings, party caucus, question time, and legislative and general debates.

mdgsWe quickly realised that the select committees are where it all happens. This is the opportunity for MPs to debate, consider and hear evidence regarding any recommendations they might make to the government as a whole. I was part of the select committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Our inquiry was into whether New Zealand should be supporting the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals. The answer from all members was a resounding ‘yes’. It was great to see such support for the concept of global citizenship and an acknowledgement from the younger generation that we have responsibilities that extend beyond our shores.

From our select committee rooms it was a confusing dash through the warren that is Parliament to the incredibly well hidden National Party caucus room. Here we discussed our views on the centrepiece of the event- The Age of Majority Bill. The bill looked at changing the general age at which a person becomes an adult from 20 to 18. This would affect legislation where currently no specific age is given, e.g. the Adoption Act 1955 and the District Courts Act 1947. It would also stop employers being able to pay those under 16 lower than the youth rate. After the legislative debate and a conscience vote the bill was passed.

Our second day of youth parliament started with an early for breakfast with Acting Prime Minister Bill English, the Hon Gerry Brownlee, Hon Nick Smith and Wayne Eagleson the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff. We spent the rest of the day in the debating chamber. The general debate was a chance for individuals to bring forward issues important to them and their communities.  Topics ranged from public transport to the monarchy to the mining of national parks. I have to say, being able to stand up and speak from the Prime Minister’s seat to a full debating chamber was something unforgettable. The issue I raised was how we can provide more opportunities for young people to examine national and international issues and their effects, allowing their view of the world to be defined, broadened and challenged. I have to say, Youth Parliament was a prime example of something which achieved all of this!


All of the Youth MPs hold their title for the next 6months, but what now? This experience made me realise that politics is something I definitely want to be involved with in the future.  It’s not all ministerial credit cards and backbiting. Sometimes the media makes it easy for us to forget that MPs do have a huge responsibility and that they work harder than we give them credit for running the country.

There are certain seats where you never expect to sit, certain microphones you never expect to speak into, certain people you never expect to meet; especially when you’re 18 and still trying to work out what direction you want to take in life. Being selected to represent the Prime Minister of New Zealand at an event like Youth Parliament is one of the most amazing things I have had the opportunity to do. Troublesome teens? We, the 2010 Youth MPs, are definitely evidence to the contrary.

Do good lives have to cost the earth?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

windOn the face of it, it would seem we must make impossible sacrifices if we want to do our bit for the environment and lead more sustainable, less damaging lives. This book shows that isn’t the case at all. It brings together household names who share a conviction that, on the contrary, living well needn’t cost the earth - and will tell you why and how.

Their collective vision, covering areas from architecture and politics to food and happiness, will completely reframe the way you think about climate change and what you’re willing to do about it. Far from the usual doom and gloom, many here argue that climate change presents a once-in-a-century opportunity to address a whole basket of problems with energy and imagination.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

40% by 2020

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Latest video from the 350 campaign.. advocating a new Emissions Reductions Target of 40% by the year 2020.

Don’t Corrupt Aid

Friday, March 27th, 2009



Don’t Corrupt Aid is a campaign to keep New Zealand’s international aid focused on addressing poverty.

A number of International Development NGOs have concerns about the New Zealand Government’s intention to re-focus New Zealand’s International Aid and Development agency, NZAID,  and the possiblility that NZAID may lose its sem-autonomous status.

This campaign results from comments made by New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully stating that New Zealand’s aid should change from ‘poverty elimination’ to a broader focus on economic development. Additionally, Mr McCully wants New Zealand’s aid agency NZAID to lose its status as a semi-autonomous body.

The Minister has instigated two reviews into NZAID which may result in the responsibility for aid being absorbed into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

How can I get involved?

The Don’t Corrupt Aid website has a Take Action page, which helps you formulate letters (differing in length depending on how much time you have) to send to Government ministers. Check it out!

Ship for World Youth

Thursday, March 19th, 2009


What is it?

The Ship for World Youth (SWY) is a global youth exchange program in which nearly 4,000 people from 62 countries have participated. Organised by the Japanese government, the purposes of the  program are:

- to broaden the global view of Japanese young people

- to promote mutual understanding and friendship between Japanese and foreign youth

- to cultivate the spirit of international cooperation and the competence to practice it

- to foster young people with the capability of showing leadership in various areas of international society

The Ship sails each year, carrying 120 Hapanese youth and 150 youth from other countries. Living together with youth from different countries on board the ship for 50 days, participants engage in discussions and lectures by specialists as well as arrange various events such as national presentation and club activities. SWY visits eastbound regions (Oceania, North, Central and South American regions) and westbound regions (Southwest Asian, African, and Middle Eastern regions) countries every other year.

How can I get involved?


Each year, the New Zealand Government waits to hear if it has been invited to participate. If so, it posts the invitation out to all youth organisations that have registered interest with the Ministry of Youth Development. It also puts the application form on the Ministry of Youth Development web site, and the New Zealand Ship for World Youth Alumni Association ‘NZSWYAA’ will also have the application and information available on this web site.

After the invitation has been received, which will give the number of positions available, the dates for the program and the route, the Ministry then invites applications from young people involved in youth activity, you don’t have to be member of a youth organisation, but you need to show that you are actively involved with youth. After that the Ministry and the SWY alumni will short list the applicants, and members of the Alumni will interview those on the short list. The successful applicants will be notified of their success, and will begin to prepare for the program. You can also email us at the NZSWYAA to find out more if you have specific queries.

UNYANZ (United Nations Youth Association of New Zealand)

Friday, February 20th, 2009



What do they do?
UNYANZ serves as the Youth arm of the United Nations Association of New Zealand. It provides the opportunity for youth to express themselves, learn about the United Nations and provide positive solutions for the future.

How can I get involved?
UNYANZ provides many opportunites for young New Zealanders to learn about the operation of the UN and become involved in civil society in New Zealand.

By becoming a member, you can participate in events like the New Zealand Model United Nations. Held annually in Wellington, this event brings together over 250 high school students from all around the country to debate and represent United Nations member states. This is a great opportunity to learn more about how the UN works and also about world affairs. Similar events are run at a regional level in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
UNYANZ has also become active in Universities where studuents can involve themselves in Model Security Council events, including the New Zealand Model Security Council Competition.

50 facts that should change the world

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

By Jessica Williams

learningAt the risk of sounding sensationalist…did you know that a third of the world is at war, 30 million people in Africa are HIV positive and more than 150 countries use torture.

The facts and information provided in this book is often missed, glossed over or hidden by government and the media. So to continue: cars kill 2 people every minute, landmines kill or maim a person every hour…

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Are you ready? Stand up and be counted!

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

By Hannah Robson

megaphoneHere in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond, we have strong opinions and are becoming more knowledgeable about politics, showing that we do indeed care. As the future generation, we are exercising our democratic rights and breaking out — trying to be heard!

People power
In the dictionary, democracy is “a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” In the words of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Did you know that young people make up nearly half of the entire population of the world? So WE are “the people” and WE have the power to make change globally.

In democracies like NZ our key democratic right is to elect our government - majority rules. Our voting age is 18, but around the world different countries have different voting ages.

  • Austria 16
  • Sudan 17
  • Japan 20
  • Uzbekistan 25

Taking a stand
FrigateYoung New Zealanders are becoming more politically aware. This could be because as a country we are known for not following the crowd on certain issues — we create strong opinions, and can usually back them up. Like the nuclear energy debate — although it is environmentally viable, New Zealand has maintained its nuclear free stance and is protecting the people from the potentially dangerous consequences. The New Zealand government has remained staunch on this issue, even under pressure from other nations, such as the USA, Australia and Britain. But young people have also realised that we can’t always wait for the government to lead the way. We have to stand up for what we believe in — we have to make changes, because in a lot of cases, the politicians have ignored the major issues.

Why now?
It is us, the young, who are going to be directly affected by such issues as global warming in the coming decades, so we need to make a stand now, for the future generations. Groups set up by young people all over the world are making that stand. KidsCall, has been touring the globe gathering messages from young people about the environment and climate change They will be presenting the hopes and demands of young people to the world’s leading politicians at the G8 meeting in Japan in July 2008. Others are taking action locally. EcoWatch in Uganda, set up by young women, works with students to raise awareness of the threat of climate change and to empower people to live in an environmentally sustainable way.

Youth can swing elections
young-obama-supportersWhether it’s as voters or as activists, young people do have power. The youth vote was seen as the all important swing vote in the American Democratic Presidential candidate election, which favoured Barack Obama. Young people in the US are inspired by his message of change and feel he reflects a new generation (their generation!) and new thinking. And he takes young people seriously, speaking to them directly and encouraging them to get involved. Young people came out in huge numbers in the primary elections and showed they are a force to be reckoned with.

In Pakistan, students played a crucial role in pushing for governmental change — for democracy — even with the risk of arrest and other punishments. Their protests helped keep international attention on the issue, and although they may still be waiting for true democratic change, the students’ actions have awakened many Pakistani youth to the potential of their own power.

On the frontline
Young people want change; it’s in our nature. From women’s rights to civil rights, young people have been on the frontline, campaigning for their cause. Youth have never been the kind to sit back and just let things happen. Even the Prime Minister was young once — just like us! Yes — even Helen Clark was out protesting against New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam war back in the 1970s. But we need to remember that beliefs do change over time and we need to remind our politicians what it is like to be young. We need to make our voices heard.

myspace-maoriPoliticians seem to be realising the power of youth and are trying to become more “in touch” with us, using technology. In the upcoming elections in New Zealand and the USA, politicians are reaching out to young people via the internet, posting videos on YouTube and creating Bebo and MySpace pages. So, if they are taking us seriously, we should take ourselves seriously too. We have to actively participate in making a change — not just talk about it!

Are you ready to stand up and be counted?


  • Take a chance — run for your student council. Or, if you want your thoughts and ideas to be heard by national decision makers, join the Provoke Network at www.myd.govt.nz/ayv/provoke/
  • Become a youth member of a political party
  • Join a local student organisation or CREATE YOUR OWN! You want to change something? Research it, discuss it with others (be prepared for some debate!) and work to make the change
  • Get involved with the World Youth Movement for Democracy www.ymd.youthlink.org
  • Signup with the Just Focus network or join the discussions in the forum www.justfocus.org.nz


Find out about student activists around the world at http://studentresistance.wordpress.com
Download the Do-It-Yourself guide to youth activism at www.ywca.org.nz
Do you want to write to a politician, or organise a petition or a campaign? Check out the Take Action guides from the Ministry of Youth Development www.myd.govt.nz

    This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.

    Preparing for life after oil

    Friday, September 12th, 2008

    By Hannah Robson

    oil_photoaWhat is the issue?
    We all know about global warming and climate change and we all know about the rising price of petrol, but do you know that cheap’ oil WILL RUN OUT?! The world is so dependent on oil, but it is becoming increasingly expensive, we are running out of easily accessible oil and soon it will take more energy to extract it than it is actually worth.

    Who is it going affect?
    The consequence of Peak Oil is a potential energy crisis and, like global warming, will affect EVERYONE. Oil is used for so many things in today’s society, from the fuel in our cars to heating, food and clothing production, petroleum products are used to make plastics, fabrics, even cosmetics and medicines. Basically, your parents will start complaining about the cost of petrol and everything else (even more than they do now!), and from there petrol will become so ridiculously expensive that no one will be able to afford it. This is going to have a dramatic affect on us and change the way we live our lives. The cost of transport will mean we will travel less, trade fewer goods with other countries and we will have to give up or find alternatives for many everyday objects, from lip-gloss, to fertiliser to CDs!

    What are people doing about it?
    transition-townsWhile some people (mostly scientists and politicians) are focusing on new technology and other sources of energy, over 500 communities all over the world (including New Zealand) are facing the challenges of climate change and peak oil by looking for ways to become less dependent on oil and reduce their impact on the planet. These towns are known as Transition Towns and their aim is to create vibrant and thriving communities that are prepared for life after oil. There are dozens of these communities all over Britain, as well as the Sunshine Coast, Australia and New Zealand’s very own Waiheke Island, Orewa and Kapiti Coast. All up over 1,527,000 people are involved!

    While this is happening at a local level there are also national and global principles in action. Nationally, some governments use energy rationing systems to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and globally, the Oil Depletion Protocol encourages nations to collectively reduce consumption, both oil producing and consuming nations.

    What can we do?
    There are lots more towns around New Zealand that have expressed interest in participating in this initiative. What about YOUR town?

    The 12 steps of Transition
    Curing our addiction to oil.

    1. Get a team together — you need a group of keen and dedicated people to get the project going

    2. Awareness raising - start informing people and get them talking about the issues, show some films like A Crude Awakening: the oil crash or An Inconvenient Truth, get some speakers in….make some noise!

    3. Lay the foundations — find out what people are already doing in your community, start networking and build relationships with local businesses, schools and community groups.

    4. Organise a Great Unleashing — have a (eco!)party and share your vision with the whole community.

    5. Form working groups - get people focused on specific aspects of the process like food, water, transport, waste etc.

    6. Try Open Space — bring everyone together and explore a particular topic or issue, with no agenda, no timetable, no coordinator and no minute takers, just let the ideas and discussion flow and see what happens.

    7. Less talk, more action! Don’t just organise lots of meetings, show people what you are achieving.

    8. Facilitate the Great Re-skilling — we seem to have forgotten how to do lots of things. Organise workshops on cooking, cycle maintenance, sock darning, gardening and food growing etc.

    9. Make friends with your Local Government - Whether it is planning issues, funding or providing connections, you need them on board.

    10. Honour your elders — Our grandparents lived in a lower energy society, before the age of consumerism and convenience. We could learn a lot from them.

    11. Go with the flow — once your community is behind this it might not always go as your planned. Be flexible.

    12. Create an Energy Descent Plan — Sounds serious doesn’t it? This is about combining all the work and plans so you cope as oil gets more and more expensive.

    For more details on the 12 Steps to Transition and heaps more information go to www.transitiontowns.org.nz

    busstopTAKE ACTION

    You don’t have to be involved in Transition Towns to take action you could leave the car at home and catch a bus or train or walk— if you don’t need to drive, DON’T! — come on guys, you know the drill. Buy less, grow your own food, recycle. Don’t let the Peak Oil Crisis be another global issue that isn’t addressed until it becomes even more difficult Stop making excuses — it’s time to make ourselves aware and show we care!


    Check out Beyond the Petrol Pump, by Omar Hamed
    Borrow A Crude Awakening: the oil crash, An Inconvenient Truth, Syriana and loads more DVDs from the Global Education Centre
    Check out the Green Party’s Peak Oil Campaign
    Go to www.globalcool.org.uk and www.4million.org.nz for loads of ideas on reducing your personal carbon footprint
    Check out some great tips for organic gardening at www.sustainablehouseholds.org.nz

      The anti-vitamin bill

      Friday, June 15th, 2007

      Anna Wu

      There is currently a bill before Parliament that could significantly change the way all natural health products are regulated. Virtually everyone has used, uses or will use a range of therapeutic products and medicines in their lives. The Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill has had minimal media attention, but it is likely to affect more of us than the Anti-Smacking Law ever will.

      Many people are opposed to the bill, but there have been recent attempts by the government to try and find a compromise.

      What’s the Bill proposing?
      NZAussieThe bill looks at creating a joint trans-Tasman (Australian and New Zealand) regulatory scheme for the regulation of natural health products products. Standards will be set to control their quality, safety, efficacy (whether the product does what it says it does) and performance. The manufacture, supply, import and promotion will also be monitored.

      Who’s finding this Bill hard to swallow?
      The National Party, ACT New Zealand, Greens, Maori Party and Independent Taito Philip Field are all against the Bill. In fact, in December last year the Bill’s first reading scraped through by only one vote. The public has also voiced their concern with several nation-wide marches this year organised and attended by 100s of people who oppose this legislation.

      What are they worried about?Vitami8n
      The Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill has been nicknamed the “Anti-Vitamin Bill.” Opponents believe the future of natural health products will not be so peachy if the Bill is passed into law. They feel that the interests of New Zealanders will be denied under a joint agency as we have different needs to Australians and products for use in our country would be required to comply with the standards set for the Australian market.

      Small businesses in the country’s natural health industry will be at risk. Multi-national corporations may find it easy to meet the new compliance costs but NZ-owned businesses could suffer. If local businesses close down it could reduce the range of products available to consumers and threaten innovation, as competition is reduced. Overall, the prices of therapeutic products and medicines will rise.

      National: Health Spokesman Tony Ryall, “Every day New Zealanders are taking supplements. Every day they are trying to protect and improve their health. We want New Zealanders to know that the regime is low cost, not restrictive, and that their choices will be protected. But this legislation does the complete opposite.”

      Another major concern is that the proposed trans-Tasman regulatory agency “will undermine the sovereignty of our Parliament.” Regulation will be transferred to an authority headquartered in Canberra “with an office in Wellington”. Because Australia took on patent obligations under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, the Bill incorporates these obligations. New Zealand will inherit’ this whether or not it reflects our interests.

      Green Party: Sue Kedgley, “It’s a sinister piece of legislation that would involve the New Zealand Parliament handing over its authority to an off-shore agency, set up under Australian law, headquartered in Australia and staffed mainly by Australians.”

      VitaminFinally, opponents say natural health products are being unfairly targeted with no justification as they are actually extremely low-risk. The Government hopes the Bill will protect New Zealanders from dodgy medicines. Health Minister Pete Hodgson claimed that between 1996 and 2007, three deaths resulted from natural health products. However it was found that coroners in each case ruled the cause of death could not be attributed to natural health products taken.[1] In addition it was it pointed out that during this same period 8000 deaths were attributed to the adverse effects of pharmaceutical drugs, with a further 16,000 permanently disabled!

      ACT NZ: Leader Rodney Hide, “It’s nuts.”

      Who will benefit?
      While supporters of the bill believe regulation will benefit the consumer, the Bills sceptics think its big business that will win out. When the 26 submissions on the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill were heard, the 7 that supported the Bill were from pharmaceutical industry based organisations and large Australian-linked companies with financial interests. A United States survey found most people held big Pharma (top-earning pharmaceutical companies in the world) in the same low esteem as tobacco firms.

      The Anti Vitamin Bill gets sugar coated: Will that help it go down ?
      Because the original bill did not have enough political support, the Government is in the process of consulting other parties about a compromise - a joint agency with Australia will still be established, but makers of New Zealand-based natural health products may choose to be regulated. Those opting out will have to be regulated under a domestic regime and are limited to producing within our shores. To expand business into Australia, they would have to comply with the trans-Tasman agency. This would allow small businesses and producers of traditional medicines to continue operating as usual.

      Chinese medicineAccording to Hon. Annette King (Minister of State Services), opponents have been “peddling misinformation” and earlier this year, before the compromise was made, she claimed “the preparation of therapeutic products as part of the traditional practice of medicines will be exempt from the regulatory scheme.” She also denied that “complimentary ingredients or finished products…will be subject to pharmaceutical style regulation.” If that was true, it is ironic that the “compromise” is proposing precisely what the minister was peddling in the original bill.

      If you want to learn more or keep up-to-date with what’s happening with the Bill check out the links below.

      Reference articles:
      Bill risks medicine price rise” by Sarah Meads and Thomas Faunce
      Big Pharma not always Beautiful” by Richard Wachman
      Sugar coating for contentious medicines and therapeutic products bill” by Audrey Young



      Annette King and Minister of Health Pete Hodgson have announced that the Government is not proceeding, at this stage, with the legislation enabling the establishment of a joint agency with Australia to regulate therapeutic products. But the Therapeutics Products and Medicines Bill will remain on the Order Paper to be revisited when sufficient parliamentary support is available… So if you are opposed to this Bill keep taking action!

      Read the full press release.