Young Nats Summer Roadie

By Will Lewis, National Policy Chair

The best way to start the year is definitely as a member of the Young Nats.

Summer in New Zealand calls for plenty of time to be spent at the beach under the sun. So, that’s exactly what the Central North Island Young Nats did. We hit up some of the best holiday destinations in our region. After Christmas, we pitched our big blue marquee on the beaches of Pauanui and Whangamata, followed by Mount Maunganui to see in the new year. We gave away over a thousand sausages, a heap of freebies and some political wisdom to those who cared for it. Countless swims, ice creams and lost cricket balls later; we all headed home several shades darker, or at least redder. I came home with recharged batteries and boundless optimism for the year ahead. The highlight of the road trip was meeting a bunch of fantastic young people and connecting with some of the very best aspects of New Zealand.

In Whangamata I met an Otago molecular biotechnology Masters student. She was passionate and fired up about researching in one of the world’s most exciting and fast-growing fields of science. An area that will, among other things, seriously shape the development of world-class healthcare in New Zealand. At the Mount I met a school student who was excited about the prospects of pursuing a career as a lawyer internationally as well as a builder who is presently in midst of the biggest construction boom New Zealand has ever experienced.

We had a lot of good yarns with a lot of everyday Kiwis. I came home with the distinct impression that many New Zealanders are doing extraordinary things and are optimistic for what 2017 has in store.

Heading into the holiday period we already knew that New Zealand was well-placed to smash things out of the park in 2017. We saw the latest Treasury forecasts that predict economic growth of 3.5%, decreasing unemployment, rising surpluses and reducing net debt. But even better than seeing forecasts like that, has been seeing the real impact that these metrics have on young New Zealanders. Not only were beachgoers full of positivity about 2017, but we learnt that the key policy priorities of young people are being addressed by the government. There are science and innovation grants for biotechnology researchers. There is trading partner growth, creating international career opportunities for budding lawyers. We are working on Resource Management Act reform for builders wanting to see more affordable housing.

Our summer road trip reminded me that, as a Young Nat, you get to meet an incredible array of young people and see the absolute best of New Zealand. The summer road trip was just the start of what will be a fantastic year to be a member of the Central North Island Young Nats. Just around the corner are our local O-Weeks, where we can have some more fun with likeminded people. Then there will be some fantastic social and policy events; party conferences and the biggie – what could prove to be a historic election campaign!

I’m excited for the opportunities that being a member of the Young Nats will bring this year and excited for the great year that 2017 will be for New Zealand.

Battle Royale

By Sam Stead, Lower North Island Chair

Being a Kiwi-American it’s safe to say a lot of my time and attention – probably too much in all honesty – has been spent watching the 2016 United States election. It is a clash of two titan parties, and their nominees, to take on one of the world’s most demanding and pressure-driven jobs: The Presidency of the United States.

The US primary system is an intriguing one and here’s my take on this cycle’s primaries:
For the Democrats, a majority of the Party base was happy with the Obama administration and their establishment’s vision. They wanted a continuation of this, and as such, picked the ex-Cabinet and establishment member that is Hillary Clinton.

The Republicans are another story. As the opposition for 8 years, their base is fired up and angry, demanding change. This sentiment gave rise to candidates such as Cruz and Carson with the ultimate outsider, Donald Trump, clinching the nomination with increased voter turnout. Many disenfranchised Americans wanted change and they viewed Trump as the means to that end.

Since the primaries, scandal has plagued both nominees. For Trump, a failure to release tax returns has spurred allegations of dodgy dealings and tax avoidance, and the leaking of a ‘hot mic’ recording put his treatment of women under the spotlight.

In Clinton’s case, an ongoing probe into Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, and the sending of sensitive emails from non-secured servers has led to investigation from the FBI and calls for a wider investigation from various political leaders.

Although often sensationalised in the media, regardless of Party, these scandals have driven the election towards one of personality politics, not one which is policy or vision-driven. This is arguably not new in America, with Romney’s “47%” gaffe and Obama’s “you didn’t build that” mistake playing major roles in the 2012 election. That said, this is arguably the most scandal centred election America has seen in recent memory.

To me this is a real flaw of this election as both candidates, regardless of their views, do have comprehensive plans for America. They both have a vision and an idea on how to implement it, yet we rarely hear about their detailed platforms and have an increased focus on ‘he said-she said’ type politics. It creates an environment where voters don’t know what they’re getting at the ballot box and spurs even more political apathy.

This type of politics and electioneering has fuelled an oddly negative election; instead of voting for their favourite candidate, many Americans were voting for the candidate they disliked the least, or they believed would do the least harm.

This view has given oxygen to third party candidates across the country. With particular reference to Johnson and McMullin, some looked within striking distance of winning a State’s Electoral College votes for the first time since the 1960s. To me, this shows two things: one, a mistrust placed in the mainstream candidates; and two, a willingness to look elsewhere. From a political junkie’s view, this is an exciting break with the historically two horse race of American politics.

Predictions? I’d say it’s still too close to call. Early voting suggests a tighter race than commentators have suggested, and the Electoral College can give rise to unforeseen outcomes. Who knows, we may see a landslide victory or a repeat of Bush vs Gore 2000.

I’m a National Party member, but my views don’t line up perfectly with either party in the US, and this election has just solidified that. The broad-church nature of National exposes me to a range of political view points and allows me to see where I stand, all under the same roof. This election has, if anything, just renewed my belief in the stability and direction of the John Key led government that makes New Zealand a pearl on the world stage.

Commitment to Building Safer Communities, Not Building More Crime

By Shelley Addison-Bell, Northern Young Nats Central Rep

Crime is an issue for people and communities. When individuals commit a crime, they are taking away from every New Zealander’s contribution to keeping New Zealand safe. Whether it is your neighbour getting burgled, or your local shop owner’s property being damaged, it affects the way you feel about your own and New Zealand’s safety.

I am a New Zealander, and I have also been exposed to the vulnerabilities of families to crime; whether it was my experience as a child woken up by a police officer in the middle of the night, or my brother’s prison sentence, at the same age I am now.

When I think about why or how a person would get to the stage they would commit a crime, I think about the importance of crime prevention, disruption of crime cycles, visibility of our law enforcement, and most significantly, how we can better deliver our public services. I am proud of our justice system and our current focus in these areas, as well as our approach to addressing underlying issues surrounding crime. Unlike Labour, I think it’s about more than New Zealanders ‘deserving’ to feel safe in their homes and neighbourhoods. It’s also more than ‘restoring’ safety. It’s about being a world leader in the way we deal with crime.

I believe National is setting the benchmark in connecting all sectors to address crime. National is targeting areas which are complex, often too complex for previous governments to address, namely family violence, child youth and family, emergency housing, victims support and restorative justice. You would have seen in the media last week about the increase in prison capacity by 1800, an investment of a further $1bn. I think this is a responsible measure in the best interests of those inside prisons. Upgraded prisons mean a higher standard of facilities, and additional prison beds mean more inmates can be closer to their families and their local community. It is also for the benefit of those outside prison, with increased capacity meaning more choice around remanding alleged offenders, especially when violence is the top offence.

If you are still questioning National’s purpose, this government set the target for all prisons in New Zealand to be working prisons. Working Prisons, alongside online learning, prepare inmates for the realities of reintegration, and show inmates they can still have a chance to contribute to society once again.

Our justice system is growing from strength and strength and this is another step towards a better New Zealand.

 

Migration to NZ; What a New Kiwi Says

By Ariyan von Wittmann, a member of the Southern Young Nats.

Since its birth as a nation, New Zealand has benefited from a responsible immigration policy which ensures migrants arriving in New Zealand will benefit both themselves and their new home. My family and I are some of the countless migrants who have successfully migrated to New Zealand, accepted through the University of Otago’s grant of a scholarship to my mum for her to do her PhD here, instead of elsewhere.

My parents decided to stay in New Zealand after mum had finished her PhD for multiple reasons, not least of which was a world class education system. For my parents, New Zealand has an atmosphere which is much calmer than what they had lived through in Iran.

To gain permanent residency, we proved our health and employment; my father had a permanent, skilled and shortage-listed job, while mum finished her PhD sooner than predicted and started on her new job as a lecturer in the university. I believe we have become giving citizens; paying taxes and contributing to the community through volunteering where we can. Through this, we began to give back to New Zealand in return for what it had given us.

I think my family and I are the result of the responsible and sustainable immigration policy which we have in New Zealand. Candidates are prioritised based on their skills and abilities and are monitored to ensure that they will benefit New Zealand as much as New Zealand benefits them.

As a young person having lived here for almost half of my life, I started to develop political ideas of my own and gravitated towards National because I came to understand the economy as being the backbone of prosperity in any nation, beliefs I share with my family. It seems obvious to me that in this too, National has proven its worth through consistently strong growth and declining unemployment figures. When you look at the alternative: parties that would make it harder for families like mine to settle in New Zealand, get a job in New Zealand, and even buy a house in New Zealand, it’s easy to see why I’m backing National.

OPINION: Desperate and disappointing

houses

By Melissa Hu, Member of the Young Nats and Northern Young Nats Executive

I’m not sure if you saw Andrew Little, Phil Twyford and the New Zealand Labour Party hit a disappointing and desperate new low yesterday.

They blamed the challenge of housing affordability on whether your name sounds Chinese or not. 

I was born here, I study here, I work here and I’m a New Zealand citizen but because my last name sounds Chinese I’m apparently a big part of the housing affordability problem – (I’m actually of Mongolian descent but would Labour care about that?)

Labour chose to make racially inflammatory comments based on half-baked data from an anonymous real estate agent in Auckland. They chose to say that there are too many Chinese buyers in the Auckland housing market based on whether your last name was Wang, Lee – or even like mine.

The problem is, this data doesn’t actually prove whether the buyers are foreigners or not. Even NZIER’s Principal Economist said Labour’s comments were “very damaging for a multi-cultural, welcoming place like New Zealand”.

I’ve lived here all my life, and I’m proud to call myself Kiwi. Young New Zealanders like me are ambitious, excited and open about New Zealand’s future. I don’t think my last name, or yours, has anything to do with trying to buy a house.

We need to be encouraging all Kiwis – young, old, European, Maori, Chinese, whatever – to aim high, work hard, create wealth and continue to raise our living standards. We also need the Government to keep taking common sense steps with councils to make more land available for housing. That’s why I support National- they know there’s a problem and they have a real plan to fix it.

We don’t need to start a “pick on the Chinese” attitude which could create more problems than it solves. Auckland’s housing problem is a supply issue – not a Chinese issue. We’re a multicultural, ambitious and prosperous country – I hope we stay that way.

Opinion: Asset Sales

MRP

by Sam Franklin, Treasurer of the Northern Young Nats

With the partial sell down of State Owned Enterprises well underway, the Labour-led debate over the costs and benefits still rages. The opposition has declared that the National Government is, among other things, “selling young New Zealanders down the river.” This rhetoric suggests that Labour and the Greens are either being deliberately misleading, or are so blinded by political ideology that they are incapable of unbiased economic judgment. Instead of adding to the debate, it may be useful to take a look at the facts of the situation, from the perspective of “young New Zealanders.”

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Teachers Council out. New leadership in.

Teachers Council dumped

Long overdue reforms to the Teachers Council are underway.

Consultation began in 2010 and it culminated in the 2013 Ministerial Advisory Group report.

Education Minister Hekia Parata had this to say:

“The new body is proposed to replace the New Zealand Teachers Council and will be called the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, broadening its scope to invest in leadership as well as teaching, and ensuring that professionals in the early childhood sector are also fully embraced.”

“Teaching needs a strong professional body that provides leadership to, and is owned by the profession. The new Council will support system changes to improve the quality of teaching and education leadership and will have the needs of children and young people, and the public interest, at its heart.

“The quality of teaching and education leadership has the biggest effect on raising achievement, and it is essential that our teachers and education leaders have the best professional body to support them in their critical roles.”

The new Council will:

  1. Raise the status of the teaching profession
  2. Establish a specific focus on education leadership
  3. Forge a new relationship between the profession and the Government to deliver on the public interests in education
  4. Make changes to the regulatory framework for teaching – including changes to the disciplinary regime
  5. Lead public debate on education issues

For more information visit www.minedu.govt.nz