Monday, August 1, 2011

NZF Youth Report - This Is Our Time

"Ten months ago I came before you with a vision. A vision for the future - of our party and of our Nation.

Today, I am happy to report that our Youth Section has gone from strength to strength.

We have expanded and rolled out on university campuses across the country.

We have experienced surges in support produced by our online campaigns on facebook and other digital media.

Most hearteningly, a recent Horizon poll indicated that 14.5% of first time voters were intending to vote for New Zealand First.

But the real story isn't just in the number of 'likes' or 'friends' we have on facebook, abstract polling data, or how many campuses we've arrived on.

It's in the reactions we're getting - and how they've changed over the last two years.

18 months ago, when we started doing this, NZF Youth seemed something of an oxymoron.

The best public reaction we received were amused references on some of the more effervescent
right-wing blogs to the emergence of a fanatical "Winston Youth".

Well we're here alright.

A year ago, there were small flurries of interest. Excited whispers that Barbarossa - asleep in the mountains - was soon to awake and return to his Nation in its hour of need.

For a select few, anything seemed possible and we struck sparks of inspiration wherever and whenever we spoke.

At last, we said, we had a genuine alternative to the other big two major parties - a way forward and a vision.

Today, when we talk to Youth, the reaction is easily summated:




Young people know increasingly what we stand for, and want to stand with us.

They are hearing our message.

They realise that we stand on the edge of oblivion, they see how close we are to chaos;
and they - along with the rest of the Nation - are beginning to remember why they NEED us.

Our generation is feeling the pinch created by thirty years of neglect for the things which nurture and foster a healthy youth.

Which turn children to contributing members of society - here - and which give and guarantee a productive position and stake in the Nation.

In 1989 Labour's Education Minister Phil Goff abolished free tertiary education.

The previous National Government abolished apprenticeships, started moves to scrap school-C and introduced NCEA.

Our present overlords have presided over a shameful increase in youth unemployment to somewhere around twenty per cent.

A fifth of those willing & able to seek work my age are unemployed, and the wage-gap between New Zealand and the Developed World continues to increase.

Small wonder 24% of Kiwis under 30 are intending on leaving the country to seek better fortunes in those well-renowned "greener" pastures (or coal-mines) across the Tasman.

Don't get me wrong - we recognise and enthusiastically endorse the OE as a Kiwi rite of passage; and as a valuable way of accumulating human capital.

However, there is quite clearly something sick in our society when OE comes to stand not for Overseas Experience but rather Overseas Exodus.

So, what will New Zealand First do. What panacea do we have to cure the Nation's ills.

It starts with Youth. With giving us not just the opportunity for a stake in the Nation, but allowing us the opportunity to help build it.

You've all seen the Student Army down in Christchurch - that's the kind of potential and good old-fashioned Kiwi grit we intend to bring to the table.

Last Convention, also held down in Christchurch, we passed remits to grant young people seeking to increase their human capital a Universal Student Allowance - as we once enjoyed.

During our previous term in Parliament, we fought successfully for more apprenticeships, and abolished Youth Rates.

Recently, we have announced plans for a dollar-for-dollar student debt reduction scheme that's proved wildly popular across the country.

Today, these gains are under threat. ACT are campaigning heavily on reinstating a separate Youth minimum wage - and calling everyone up to their mid-20s "youth".

National have sought to cap tertiary student numbers, and cut university funding.

This government has also seen fit to cut and curtail funding and personel for our Defence Forces - which provide a valuable set of life-skills and pathway to prosperity for many - and often at-risk - youth.

Further, they have cut funding to over 2,000 early childcare educational services, and are moving to abandon requirements for educational providers to be certified, qualified teachers.

Again, these are not signs of health - and still far less signs of wealth.

Rather, they are the signs of a fundamentally sick society.

Earlier I stated that Youth are hearing our message.

That message is simple: Help is on its way!"

- Speech to 2011 NZF Convention

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