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Greens urge young people to get out and vote

6 September 2005

Greens urge young people to get out and vote

The Green Party is launching its youth campaign in Auckland this afternoon, urging young people: 'Don't Throw Your Vote Away: Keep New Zealand Green'.

The youth campaign involves advertising in student magazines; the distribution of beer mats, stickers and posters; animated email ads; and the launch of 'Twenty-One Reasons Why Young People Should Go Green'. The campaign is themed on the old recycling ads, which urged New Zealand to 'Keep NZ Clean'.

Green Campaign Manager Russel Norman says the youth campaign is an integral part of the Greens' election strategy.

"We believe it's vitally important that young people see the relevance of the election to their future," Dr Norman says. "That's why we're investing in campaign material that young people will identify with to make sure they Keep NZ Green and don't throw their votes away."

The youth campaign is being launched by Green Co-Leader Rod Donald and Green Youth Affairs Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos at Vulcan Lane in central Auckland. Mr Donald and Mr Tanczos will then be going on a pub crawl around central Auckland's favourite drinking holes, handing out the beer mats to Kiwis having a lunchtime drink.

"Young people are the leaders of the future," Mr Donald said. "The Green Party's keen to encourage potential first-time voters to get on the electoral roll and make the most of the power of their vote.

"We're not interested in appealing to people's greed, we want to appeal to their intelligence. That's why we're taking the needs of young people seriously, not just because their vote counts as much as everyone else, but because we have a responsibility to pass this world on to them in a state that's worth inheriting."

Electoral Commission figures show that young people vote in much smaller numbers than older New Zealanders.

"In Auckland Central, only two-thirds of people under 25 were enrolled to vote in the last election," Nandor said. "Young people's voices are not well represented in Parliament. It's important that young people do have a say because the decisions we make now are going to impact over the next couple of decades at least.

"Particularly with environmental issues, we can see the time lag between cause and effect can be very long. So, it's important for young people to be thinking about the world that they're inheriting, and thinking about what kind of world they want that to be. The Greens are the only people who are talking about the real issues that face us: fossil fuel depletion, climate change, ecological degradation, and student loan debt. We're the only people who take those things seriously, and they are the big issues that face us today.

"We know that young people are more likely to vote Green. I think that's because the Greens are the only political party with a vision of the future that goes beyond more economic growth."

Twenty-one reasons why young people should go Green

Green Party of Aotearoa/New Zealand

1. We won't send you overseas to die in illegal, immoral wars.
The Greens are passionate about New Zealand's right to have an independent foreign policy. We strongly opposed the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq and will make sure no Kiwi young people die in wars for oil.

2. We'll ensure you have a planet worth inheriting.
The future of our planet is looking less than perfect: from climate change, to the end of cheap oil and the extinction of extinction of indigenous flora and flora, humanity faces some pretty huge challenges. It is our young people who will have to live with the consequences of decades of ecological destruction. The Greens believe that the younger generation has a right to inherit a planet with air you can breathe and water you can swim in.

3. We'll be straight with you.
Too many politicians, including Don Brash, are evasive on issues that really matter, such as whether we should have supported the war on Iraq and whether we should remain proudly nuclear-free. The Greens promise to always say what we think, whether our views are likely to be popular or not.

4. We have a vision for your country's future.
While most politicians think about the next seven days, we think about the next generation, and the generation after that. We think long-term. We're not like other parties who have an incoherent collection of policies thrown together for short-term political gain.

We have a vision for New Zealand as an Econation , with inclusive communities and a strong, sustainable economy. Our vision is of a country where human needs are met without damage to the other species which share the earth with us. Our vision is for a future where each generation, starting with this one, passes on its soil, air and water in a healthier state than we inherit them.

A future where technology is harnessed to extract more from each unit of resources, rather than extracting more resources from an already depleted earth. A future where human potential can flourish, no longer stunted by chemical residues in food and water, or by unhealthy buildings and work practices.

5. We'll make sure you're paid a fair wage.
For too long, the hard work of New Zealand's young people has been treated as being worth less than the work older Kiwis do. We think this is wrong. If young people are doing the same work as older people, then they should be paid the same wage.

The Greens would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour for all our workers, no matter what their age. That's over $100 more a week in the hand for young workers currently on the minimum wage, and without having to cut taxes by a single cent.

6. We'll make sure students don't have to borrow to live.
Tertiary students are the only group in New Zealand society who have to take out a loan to make ends meet. All other Kiwis unable to be in full-time paid employment - whether they're a single parent or ill or elderly - are eligible for a living allowance.

But not students - who, if they can't make ends meet, have to take out a loan or line up at foodbanks. We believe this is a form of discrimination against students, who are primarily young people. We would combat this discrimination by introducing a universal living allowance for students, set at the level of the unemployment benefit.

7. We'll treat all young people with respect.
Young people know that human beings come in all shapes and sizes - Kiwis have all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and outlooks on life. Some politicians want to scapegoat those who they perceive as different - whether homosexual, or Asian, or Muslim. The Greens stand proudly behind the idea that New Zealand is a tolerant, diverse society, and we reject all those politicians and parties who seek to make political capital out of Kiwis' bigotry.

8. We stand for gender liberation.
Young people know that women should be treated the same as men. While some older New Zealanders express out-of-date chauvinist attitudes about how women's proper place in society is inferior to that of men, we stand firmly behind gender equality.

While some politicians express resentment that women have made great social strides in the past few decades, and call it "political correctness gone mad", the Greens are proud that New Zealand has strong female role models.

9. We believe young people deserve the same benefits as adults.
At present, all Kiwis 18 or over are treated by the benefit system as adults, while 16- and 17-year-olds don't have the same entitlements. We think this is unfair. We would reintroduce the unemployment and sickness benefits for unsupported 16- and 17-year-olds.

10. We'll make sure no students are suspended or expelled from school without good reason.
It's a disgrace that almost 5,000 Kiwi kids are suspended or expelled from school every year, often for spurious reasons. Schools are under-resourced and unable to provide adequate behavioural measures to keep kids in schools. Young people suspended and excluded from school are left isolated, angry and vulnerable to negative social influences. At the moment, kids who are unfairly suspended or expelled from school have no recourse. Such kids and their parents have no effective mechanism for appealing such decisions, and the Greens believe this fundamentally violates the right of all New Zealanders to due process.

That's why we're calling for an Independent Review Panel, which would look at decisions made by Boards of Trustees to suspend or expel students, and decide whether they are justified.

11. We'll make sure young people learn the things that matter at school.
There are some things are so important that all young people should know about them. The Greens believe these all-important things should be incorporated into all levels of the school curriculum, including:

* Learning about sustainability and how human life interacts with our natural environment;
* Learning about Maori language and culture and the Treaty of Waitangi;
* Learning about how our democracy and our constitutional framework function.

12. We'll take youth suicide seriously.
We believe youth suicide is an important problem facing New Zealand, which needs considerable government attention. We would increase support to school and youth organisations to help reduce the unacceptably high level of suicide among youth. In order to achieve this goal, the Greens would double funding for the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, which provides money to community-based organisations that offer essential social services to disadvantaged or at-risk Kiwis.

13. We'll stop you from being burdened by debt.

Too many of our brightest young people are heading off overseas because they feel let down by politicians who got free tertiary education themselves but are now happy to burden the next generation with huge levels of student debt so they can afford tax cuts for themselves.

The Greens think this intergenerational theft is wrong, and that's why we're proposing to introduce a debt write-off scheme for graduates who stay in New Zealand. For every year you work in New Zealand after graduation, we'd write-off one year of your student debt. So, if you study for five years, you'll be debt-free five years after graduation!

14. We'll tackle drug abuse head-on.

We believe the amount of drug abuse among young people is a concern, and needs to be addressed. We'd ensure that a comprehensive and effective drug education programme is available in schools and communities, giving young people real information about the risks and how to protect themselves from drug harm.

By the same token, the Greens believe that drug abuse is a health issue, not a criminal justice one. Those locked into harmful drug habits need to be given medical help, not rejected by society and thrown in prison.

15. We'll make sure the law doesn't discriminate against young people.
We believe legislation should be consistent in specifying when somebody ceases being a child under the law and starts being treated as an adult.

At the moment, there are great inconsistencies across different parts of the law. For example, once tertiary students hit 18, they're not considered 'dependents' in assessing whether their parents are eligible for Working For Families tax relief.

However, the very same students, when the Government works out whether they're eligible for a student allowance, are considered dependent on their parents until they turn 25. We think this is wrong, and would push for consistency in age restrictions across all legislation.

16. We'll make sure you have a buses or trains to get around.
More than the rest of the population, young people rely on public transport to get around. The Greens are the only party that believes developing affordable and convenient public transport services should be at the forefront of transport policy.

17. We believe education is a right, not a privilege
Tertiary education is a right that all young people should be able to access without getting into a lifetime of debt. High tuition fees are a considerable barrier preventing more young Kiwis in low-income families from accessing tertiary education. That's why we advocate capping and then reducing tuition fees.

18. We accept there's not endless space to dump our rubbish.
The way we're going, we're soon going to run out of space to dump our rubbish , and today's young people will be left to clean up the ensuing mess.

The Greens are committed to more recycling and getting manufacturers to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their products. We need to be buying and making more durable, higher-quality goods that don't fall apart within a few hours of purchase.

19. We'll crack down on parents who beat their kids.
At present, parents who badly beat their kids (even with implements!) can get off being convicted by using the "reasonable force" defence provided in Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

The Greens think it's just plain wrong that children are the one group of New Zealanders who can be legally assaulted. Young people know that this discrimination is unfair and dangerous. The Greens are committed to a future free from violence.

20. We've got plans to prepare for the end of cheap oil.
Everyone knows petrol prices are increasing, as the world's supply of oil reserves become more and more scarce. However, the Greens are the only party with comprehensive, realistic plans to provide for the future, long-term energy needs of New Zealand.

The sooner we face up to the fact that the end of cheap oil is upon us, the less of a mess young people are going to be left to clean up. The Greens will begin a major programme to increase efficiency of electricity use and production from renewables.

21. We've made sure silly mistakes you make when you're young won't haunt you for the rest of your lives.

The Greens championed a Clean Slate Act, which allows Kiwis with minor convictions to put past mistakes behind them. The Act, which started as a Private Members' Bill from Green MP Nandor Tanczos, allows people convicted of offences that did not result in imprisonment and who have gone seven years without any convictions to have their minor convictions scrubbed.


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