ACT on Campus President Hayden Fitzgerald today expressed concern and disappointment over ACT Leader John Banks’s decision to split the drinking age.
“Mr Banks’s choice to vote in favour of punishing responsible 18 and 19 year olds is short sighted and goes against the ACT Party principles of choice and personal responsibility,” Mr Fitzgerald said today.
“We invite John to publicly share his explanation on how tinkering with the alcohol purchase age will help solve problem drinking in New Zealand and why he thinks that voting, fighting, working young adults should have their legal rights restricted.
“ACT on Campus does not believe that prohibiting 19 year olds, living away from home for a couple of years, buying a bottle of wine will do anything to address New Zealand’s drinking problem.
“Increasing the purchase age will increase the level of disrespect toward the law by young people as their freedoms and responsibilities are taken away.
“The contradiction of being able to enlist in the army, vote, enter a legally binding contract and be elected to Council or Parliament, but not having the lawful freedom to drink a glass of wine at home will not be lost on young adults. Nor should it be forgotten. If the law offers these choices and responsibilities to those young adults, then they should rightfully have the same when it comes to alcohol.
“Busting New Zealand’s binge drinking culture requires better education, better health services, efficient policing and more involvement from family and communities. A focus on these areas will form government policy which sensibly encourages progress; not poorly thought out policies that penalise responsible young people,” Mr Fitzgerald concluded.
NZ Council of Trade Union’s Same Work Same Pay spokesman James Sleep is deliberately misleading young people with his claim that they face a massive pay cut tomorrow with the re-introduction of youth rates, ACT on Campus President Taylor Warwood said today.
“Despite James’ claims, young people who are already in employment will be paid the same wage tomorrow, next week and next month as they were paid today,” Mr Warwood said.
“The new youth rates are only applicable to young people who are currently unemployed. These individuals are not earning any pay so therefore don’t have any pay to cut.
“The re-introduction of a youth rate will give unemployed youth a better shot at getting their foot on the job ladder. They will start learning valuable skills and gaining experience which will make them more employable and better off with higher wage prospects in the future.
“A recent article in The Economist said that countries with ‘high taxes on labour and high minimum wages; and where regulations make it hard to fire people, are bad places for the young jobless.’
“It also cited academic papers showing that ‘people who begin their careers without work are likely to have lower wages and greater odds of future joblessness than those who don’t.’
“Since Labour and the Greens abolished youth wages in 2008, youth unemployment has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels.
“The re-introduction of youth rates tomorrow rolls back this mistake, and will encourage more employers to give young people a chance,” Mr Warwood said.
There are politicians in this world who clearly just don't get it. It is not always because they are incompetent or corrupt, though we can pronounce these two conditions as leading causes. No, I think it is chiefly because they are scared witless by the fact that they know they have lost touch. And so much do they value their own hides that they won't admit it, and sadly, won't admit to the change of heart they know is necessary.
This week, and in particular, we have learned that this is not John Banks. He changed his mind on marriage equality (and by all accounts, over time), and while he might have been seen to be uncomfortable about it in front of the camera, he was most certainly undaunted by the prospect of others seeing his change of heart.
Along comes Duncan Garner of 3 News to ruin what was for a lot of people, a moment in history. He, in my view, unfairly criticised Banks for his position on marriage equality, which seemed to surprise people. Then Garner, holding onto the past with a death grip, wouldn’t let us forget the unfortunate comments that Banks had made a substantial amount of time ago, without a much deserved context.
Garner then questioned whether Banks was a joke, for doing something as heroic as changing one’s mind, in extending legal rights to a section of society that has long deserved them.
One must wonder why gutless politicians won't ever admit they've changed their minds for the good. They do so, apparently, at their own peril.
Instead, they prefer the slow death of seeming evermore out of touch and on the way out to the hard questions they might get if they were just honest. Just look at the People’s Phil Goff who could not steel himself to admit that he was once a neo-liberal, while he crusaded about as Labour's social democrat. If he had the courage to say he'd changed his mind, maybe he’d still be in the front row of the opposition benches.
My mission in writing this is point out why Garner got it wrong. I think the emotive inclinations that so many in his profession give into, led him astray. For changing his mind, Garner seemed unwilling to forgive whatever it was that Banks must have done to him. In doing so, Garner teaches us a rather valid lesson here - that a grudge can work its mischief upon its master if should they overlook the rational thinking processes that almost everybody has.
John voted for marriage equality because it was the right thing to do. He has very little to explain in this regard. Though, as I write this, there are politicians who voted against marriage equality, now frantic about what they should do next to avoid being lumped in with crazy Colin Craig. Wondering, that is, how to explain their failure to act with courage to those who expected more of them.
Doing something because it is right requires tremendous strength of mind (endurance I would say) which is not easy to find. Its the high road and the narrow path. On the other hand, being negative about someone's change of heart under these conditions is too easy, and something easy as such is cheap as well.
I wish that every member of Parliament would have the same courage that John Banks and those others put on display, for whom voting in favour of marriage equality was an intrepid but rewarding journey.
People like genuine characters, though cynical individuals might well consider this kind to be akin to a mythical species.
If Garner had understood this demand followed with despair, as he played Banks's history as a weapon instead of as a rest for applause, I think he might not have to face the reality that I present for your consideration.
John Banks, for supporting marriage equality, is not a joke, and should continue to be a role model for other MPs. They are MPs who should lead with pride into their uncharted territories with their values and reason as a guide, instead of a cowering fear - afraid of being reported as having a position worthy of praise but different to their past one.
If this can be achieved by our politicians, we might find that we have 120 statesmen and women instead, and they too will get what I get out of being involved in politics.