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Labour celebrates young Kiwis

Labour celebrates young Kiwis

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Youth Affairs Minister Steve Maharey tonight launched Labour's Youth policy at a celebratory event in Wellington featuring Kiwi rockers Ghost Plane.

Helen Clark said the event was both a celebration of the success of young Kiwis under Labour and an opportunity to highlight new policies, including the removal of interest on student loans and the introduction of thousands more Modern Apprenticeships.

"Youth culture has thrived under Labour and we're determined to build on that success in our next term," Helen Clark said.

"For young people New Zealand is a more positive, optimistic and creative country than it was six years ago, offering many more opportunities. Many more young people are in work, more are in tertiary education than ever before, more are gaining qualifications and New Zealand music is thriving as never before.

"Over 90 per cent of young Kiwis who leave school head straight into education, training or jobs. Youth smoking rates are showing signs of decline and in particular it is increasingly rare for young males to be smokers."

Labour's policy for young New Zealanders includes:

Abolishing all interest charges on student loans for all students and New Zealand based graduates from 1 April 2006

Doubling the number of bonded merit-based scholarships from 500 to 1,000 by the end of 2006, with a view to further increasing that to 1,500 by 2008

A commitment to continue to provide lower cost doctor’s visits and cheaper prescriptions for everyone under the age of 24 who is enrolled in a Primary Health Organisation

Regular reviews of the youth minimum wage to ensure it maintains its value relative to the adult minimum wage. Investigating the development of internships and community volunteer schemes whereby young people could work for up to a year to advance their employment and education opportunities and / or contribute to community development. Developing new initiatives to increase voter enrolment among young people such as: providing voter enrolment forms when filling out government forms such as driver licensing applications forms, 18+ cards, passports, student loans or allowances etc Continuing to support the provision of radio services for young people, the voluntary quota of New Zealand music on commercial radio, and new initiatives to boost Kiwi music. A nationwide awards scheme to recognise the diversity of youth sporting, cultural and artistic achievement

Steve Maharey said one of Labour's top priorities in government was supporting young New Zealanders with the transition from school to work or further education.

"Youth unemployment has now recovered from the depths of the 1990s and is at a 16 year low. We're determined to build on that success by ensuring all young New Zealanders have a pathway into work, education or training."

Helen Clark and Steve Maharey tomorrow Tomorrow Helen Clark and Steve Maharey will be in Gisborne to launch a new Youth Transition Service, and to announce the details of Labour’s policy on Youth Transition Services.

Ghost Plane Ghost Plane is an up-and-coming Wellington band, who in the past have opened for The Pretenders and New Zealand bands such as The Bats. They plan to launch their first full-length album on Monday 29 August.

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