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Brownlee: John Key, A Fresh Start

Gerry Brownlee: MP for Ilam

This afternoon in Auckland John Key delivered a speech entitled 2008: A fresh start for New Zealand. In it he outlined National’s Youth Plan, which consists of a Youth Guarantee and tough new law & order initiatives to combat youth crime.

The energy and enthusiasm of the vast majority of our young people make me hugely optimistic for our country.

But, sadly, a growing number of our young people aren’t meeting their potential.

We all see it – early school leavers unable to read or write well enough, drug and alcohol problems, newspaper headlines describing teens walking around bashing people.

This week, National outlined policy that forms part of our plan for giving young people the future they deserve. National’s Youth Plan has two major aspects to it.

The first part will be a new education entitlement - National’s Youth Guarantee.

The Youth Guarantee will allow every young person under the age of 18 to access, free of charge, a programme of educational study towards school-level qualifications. This new entitlement will be on top of, not instead of, the education entitlements they have now.

Many 16- and 17-year olds will continue to choose school as their preferred option, but others might prefer to continue their education through, for example, a polytechnic, a wananga, a private training establishment, an industry training organisation, or a combination of these options.

School doesn’t work for all young people, so let’s apply some common sense and get them into a form of education that does. Sixteen and 17-year-olds who are not working, and who fail to take up this new entitlement, will not be eligible to receive a benefit (except in special circumstances such as illness). Teenage parents will be specifically catered for.

The second part of our Youth Plan will tackle youth offending.

It will give the Youth Court new powers to get young people back on the rails, and tougher sentencing options to deal with those who pose a serious threat to the safety of our communities. We will back those powers up with increased funding to the services involved.

We are proposing new powers for the Youth Court:

- Parenting orders: Parenting courses to address problems at home that may be contributing to a young person’s offending.

- Mentoring programmes: Providing role models to young offenders for a period of up to 12 months.

- Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes: Designated funding to help get young offenders sober.

National will also enable the Youth Court to impose tougher sentences where needed.

- Longer residential sentences: Up to six months in a Youth Justice facility.

- Fresh Start Programmes: Revolutionary, year-long, intensive programmes designed to instil discipline and address underlying causes of offending; including up to 12 weeks of residential training at, for example, an army base.

- Spotlight Sentences: Non-compliance with court-ordered supervision contracts will result in electronic monitoring using an ankle bracelet.

We will also extend the jurisdiction of the Youth Court so it has the power to deal with 12- and 13-year-olds accused of serious offences. National thinks the Youth Court, with its wider range of powers, could play a much stronger role in getting these young offenders back on track.

National’s Youth Plan is about giving young New Zealanders the opportunity and responsibility to better themselves, no matter what their circumstances, abilities, or track record.

Yours sincerely

Gerry Brownlee
MP for Ilam

A copy of the speech, policy summary and backgrounder are attached. The speech is can also be read on my website by Clicking Here


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