Labour Leader releases youth policy
Helen Clark gave the audience an overview of Labour's Youth Policy released today saying it aimed to break down barriers which stand in the way of fulfilling their potential.
"This policy brings together crucial areas of all Labour's policies, because every area of government must consider the needs and aspirations of young New Zealanders," Helen Clark said.
"More than a third of our country's population is under 25 years of age. The nation's success depends on your success.
"I grew up in a society which gave us, as young people, opportunities. It was built around the basic value of fairness - that if you put in a decent effort, you would be rewarded.
"But the National Government has been intent on putting up barriers for young people. Access to education, training, jobs, health services, and other opportunities is just so much more difficult and costly.
"That's not the kind of society that I wish to live in. The Labour Government will bring in a change of direction for the country which will be very positive for young people.
"There will be better access to education and training through initiatives like a fairer student loan scheme and our modern apprenticeships scheme.
"There will be more requirements on government agencies to consider the needs of young people in all aspects of their operations. A framework for this integrated response will be co-ordinated through the Ministry of Youth Affairs.
"Young people will be supported and encouraged in their attempts to develop their own music and art forms and entertainment through initiatives like Arts Allowances for young artists to establish themselves in arts careers. As Prime Minister I also aim to be Minister of Arts and Culture and I will keep a careful eye on progress in this area.
"Art and culture express the heart of our nation. They will play a huge role in the 21st century in expressing our identity as a dynamic, vibrant, innovative nation which has so much to offer the world, and young people will be the centre of that movement.
"Labour in government will also ensure fairer conditions for young workers, who are among the most vulnerable groups in the labour market. Young workers will benefit from the replacement of the Employment Contracts Act with modern and fair employment legislation.
"Under Labour, the minimum adult wage will apply at eighteen years of age, and employment rights for young people, including youth pay rates, will be included in the Minimum Code of Employment Rights.
"But the policy released today will not only benefit young people, it will also benefit their families. We want young people to feel that the opportunities for them in New Zealand are as great as they are overseas. People my age tell me they don't want to have to travel overseas in future to see their grandchildren. They want their young people to be able to build a good life in this country," Helen Clark said.