The Young Greens

Young people are the future of our country, but they have little say in how it’s run. Parliament makes all the decisions about the laws that rule New Zealand, yet, our young people are poorly represented there.

Just look at the figures. One in eight eligible voters are aged between 18 and 24 yet there are no MPs under 25. This disparity holds true for the under 40s too. Only fourteen of the 121 MPs are under 40, but the proportion of eligible voters in that age group is over four times higher. The average age of MPs at the start of 2006 is 51.36 years.

Is it any wonder, then, that young people vote in much lower numbers than older New Zealanders? Despite it being a legal requirement for over 18s to enrol to vote, fewer than five in every hundred Kiwis aged 25 or older fail to enrol. Among New Zealanders aged between 18 and 24, a staggering one in four are not enrolled. Why? Because politics in New Zealand doesn’t seem to have much to offer them.

If young people want to make a difference to how New Zealand works, they have to get involved. Politics isn’t a spectator sport – you have to participate. You can’t expect your country to change if you don’t do anything to make that change happen. Be the difference.

Young people are faced with solving problems that have been generated or ignored by their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Successive governments in the 1980s and 1990s sold off most of this country’s assets, commercialised education, privatised healthcare, slashed benefits at the same time as giving tax cuts to the wealthy, all in the name of growth. And now our young people are paying for it.

At the same time youth are also disproportionately affected by an unjust justice system. The courts, prison terms for victimless crimes and criminal records for minor drug infringements all add to the pressures on young people. To meet these challenges, and to make New Zealand a fairer, more fun, more vibrant place to live, young people have to get involved. The future starts today.