Young New Zealanders Needed In Halls Of Power

  • Tony Ryall
Youth Affairs

Youth Affairs Minister, Tony Ryall, has urged young New Zealanders to take a more active role in public life. Speaking to the new Auckland City Youth Council at an induction ceremony in Auckland today, Mr Ryall said local authorities and parliament needed young people to bring new ideas and views to decision-making.

"We should be encouraging young New Zealanders to take a greater interest in both community service and public service.

"Without people prepared to give of themselves to help others, our community will fall apart.

"If you look around your city at the helping organisations you'll see mainly older New Zealanders being the backbone of community effort. Isn't it time our generations started helping out?

"Young people are also missing from public service. Again, not a fashionable thing. Who would want to serve on a city council or in Parliament, with all the criticism and personal attacks that weary these elected people?

"A survey of local authority elected members conducted after the 1998 local government elections indicates that there are just 6 elected members under the age of 30. That's just one percent of the total number of members.

"Currently, just 27 or four percent of elected members are in the 30 - 39 age group.

"At Parliament the number of MPs under 30 has dropped from 4 in 1991 to only one today. People of all ages have voted to put young people into Parliament. If I might observe it's all about calibre and capacity, not tokenism.

"It is important that the voices of young New Zealanders are heard in Wellington. Quite frankly, when I came to Parliament, whenever the Government made a decision to spend money, they sent the bill straight to the next generation! Everything was paid for by borrowing.

"Balancing the books is one of the greatest gifts any government can give the next generation.

"Closer to today, you may have seen TV One's series on MPs over Easter Weekend. Don't get the wrong impression. Public service - at local and national level - is incredibly satisfying, exciting and challenging. You can achieve good things with other good people.

"Young people have a huge contribution to make. They able to make the community aware of the many challenges and difficulties they face.

"They also bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to old issues.

"That is why the initiatives such as the Auckland City Youth Council have so much to offer", said Mr Ryall.

The Youth Council is made up of 19 young people aged between 16 and 24 years. It was initiated in 1984 to enable youth views to be presented to the Auckland City Council.