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Disenfranchised young deserve respect including vote from 16

Disenfranchised young deserve respect, including vote from 16

It is shocking that over a quarter of young voters have failed to enrol for the general election says Mana’s Social Wellbeing spokesperson Sue Bradford.

‘News out this morning that 26% of those aged 18-24 are not enrolled to vote is a wake up call to all of us.

‘When young people don’t think it’s worth voting, or registering to vote, they are sending us older ones a clear message that things must change.

‘Successive Governments can’t keep turning on young people and making life hard for them, then expect them to believe in their system.

‘I suspect that John Key and Phil Goff may well have been turned off politics too if they had been treated the same way in their youth as young people are being treated now.

‘Mana believes that it’s high time Parliament and Governments went through a total shift in how our democracy views and treats young people.

‘A good start would be to lower the voting age to 16 and introduce Civics education into schools from primary level right through.

‘If young people understand how our political system works, and feel they have a voice in shaping it, I believe they will be far more likely to participate in elections.

‘And in turn, if 16 and 17 year olds could vote, political parties would make much more effort to enact programmes which help young people, rather than alienate and frustrate them.

Mana believes that the needs of young people must be made a priority through a series of changes, including:

- · Lowering the voting age to 16 and including civics education in the school curriculum from primary school onwards.
- · Ending youth unemployment by focused Government support for job creation, alongside free access to quality training and education, including trade training programmes for young Maori (and others).
- · Abolishing discrimination in the benefit system which sees young people 18 -24 granted less to live on than those aged 25 and over, despite living costs being identical.
- · Working towards ensuring that in future graduating students enter the workforce free of the burden of student debt.

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