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Youth question time a runaway success - Tamihere

16 August 2004 Media Statement

Youth question time a runaway success says Tamihere

Youth Affairs Minister John Tamihere said he was very impressed with the high standard of questions by Youth MPs at today's Youth Parliament question time.

"What a great start to proceedings. This was the best youth parliament question time to date. The standard of questions was as good as the official opposition on a good day.

"Fortunately Ministers were well disposed to dealing with challenging topics such as environmental protection, student debt, education, immigration and economic growth.

Youth Parliament 2004 celebrates New Zealand's young people and provides a real opportunity for youth participation said John Tamihere.

"Youth Parliament 2004 is the fourth Youth Parliament in New Zealand history, and was postponed a year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the New Zealand Parliament, the 30th anniversary of lowering the voting age, and 10 years since the first Youth Parliament was held.

"I am proud to be able to host this historic event together with the Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt. Youth Parliament was started 10 years ago to help young people understand what goes on in government, and to give them the opportunity to express their views and opinions.

"Youth Parliament 2004 involves very talented young people voicing their opinion not only on the issues they face, but issues facing the country.

"This year Youth MPs will debate a mock piece of legislation - the Minimum Ages Bill. The Bill will propose that the age of majority be lowered from 20 to 18. It will also propose that the minimum legal age for purchasing alcohol be raised from 18 to 20 and that the minimum driving age be raised from 15 to 16.

"I particularly look forward to hearing the outcome of debate on this matter as well as other key issues under discussion. This information will be fed into the general policy process ensuring youth are heard and the event has lasting impact," John Tamihere said.

Youth Parliament 2004 has a comprehensive programme with the Governor-General officially opening proceedings. When legislative and general debates, select committees, ministerial reviews and press briefings are complete, Wellington-based band Rhombus will play at the closing celebration.


Background Information

Introduction

New Zealand’s fourth Youth Parliament is being held on 16 and 17 August 2004.

Youth Parliament is a huge event for both young people and Parliament. This year’s event is particularly special as it coincides with the 150th anniversary of the first sitting of Parliament and the 30th anniversary of the lowering of the voting age to 18 years.

The Ministry of Youth Development administers Youth Parliament through the Minister of Youth Affairs and with the assistance of the Office of the Clerk and Parliamentary Service. A Multi-Party Parliamentary Steering Committee oversees planning for the event.

The purpose of Youth Parliament is to help young people to understand and actively participate in the parliamentary process, and give them the opportunity to have their views heard by key decision makers and the general public. Each Member of Parliament has selected a young person to represent them in their role as a MP.

During Youth Parliament Youth MPs will have the opportunity to debate a mock Bill in the House, engage in a general debate, sit on Select Committees, ask questions of Cabinet Ministers as well as take parliamentary tours. Realism is an important aspect of Youth Parliament and, with the exception of the Youth MPs, all Government personnel are maintained and procedures upheld.

Legislative Debate

At each Youth Parliament there is an opportunity to debate one issue in depth, the debate on mock legislation.

This year Youth MPs will debate a mock piece of legislation - the Minimum Ages Bill. The Bill will propose that the age of majority be lowered from 20 to 18. It will also propose that the minimum legal age for purchasing alcohol be raised from 18 to 20 and that the minimum driving age be raised from 15 to 16.

Select Committees

Nine youth Select Committees will operate – five will be Select Committees of Inquiry and four will carry out departmental reviews. The topics for the Select Committees of Inquiry are whether:

- New Zealand should become a republic
- New Zealanders should be required to have a universal identity card
- the penalties for breaching the graduated driver licence conditions should be tougher
- alcopops should be taxed higher than other alcoholic beverages to reduce teenage drinking
- New Zealanders should pay for the use of water.

The departments that will be reviewed are:
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Te Puni Kökiri
- Ministry of Youth Development.

Youth Press Gallery

Running parallel to Youth Parliament is the Youth Press Gallery. Like Youth Parliament, the Youth Press Gallery will duplicate as realistically as possible the actual workings of the parliamentary Press Gallery.

Ten young people from around New Zealand have been selected by Tearaway Magazine as the Youth Press Gallery. Tearaway Magazine is managing the Youth Press Gallery for the Ministry of Youth Development.

Youth Press Gallery members will provide coverage of Youth Parliament to Tearaway Magazine and to other media outlets on the happenings at Youth Parliament.

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