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Labour accuses PM of abusing youth forum

2000 web siteThe Government is using the Prime Minister's Youth Forum for its own political gain, Labour Youth Spokesperson Lianne Dalziel said.

Lianne Dalziel said she was angry that the Prime Minister refused her the opportunity to meet with youth forum representatives - the third time she has made such a request.

"I am particularly angry given that I know that members of the Youth Forum asked formally if they could meet with me," Lianne Dalziel said.

"In turning down by request for a meeting with the Youth Forum, the Prime Minister said that it 'is important to keep the forum focussed on this excellent opportunity the youth of New Zealand have to raise issues directly with myself'. Yet I know that in one visit to Wellington the forum were subject to 'fillers' like a meeting with John Carter! Surely it would be more valuable for the young people to have their views and ideas heard by representatives of opposition parties than by a junior Government member whose major claim to fame is imitating an unemployed Maori on talkback radio?

"When plans for the youth forum was announced, I expressed concern that it would be used by the Prime Minister as a photo opportunity. Nothing that has happened since has led me to change my mind on that.

"It is normal practice for Government advisors to also meet with opposition MPs to inform them on the work they are doing. Often it is arranged through the Minister's office although that is not always essential. If the Prime Minister was genuine in wanting to give young people a real voice in New Zealand politics she would have heeded my request.

"But the National Government is more interested in photo opportunities with young people than genuinely listening to their concerns," Lianne Dalziel said.

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