Feilding - Rangitikei Herald by Ben Henderson Youth MP

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Youth Parliament is held in Wellington every three years.

My name is Ben Henderson and this year I was privileged to be a part of it as Ian McKelvie's representative and the Youth MP for Rangitikei.

Youth Parliament is an opportunity for young New Zealanders to learn first-hand about our democracy and to influence decision-making - it replicates the real Parliament as closely as possible.

The calibre of Youth MPs at Youth Parliament, and their determination to represent their MPs and constituents to the best of their ability was truly mindblowing.

Their knowledge of the current political climate and the issues faced by every day New Zealanders was also amazing.

In question time, I had an opportunity to ask Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: "What is the minister doing to ensure rural young people have all of the tools necessary to access employment opportunities and subsequently gain a position in the workforce?" Minister Joyce answered by saying the Government supports initiatives such as the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs' Driver's Licensing Programme currently being trialled in the Hawkes Bay.

He also stated the regional growth strategies currently being developed have sections specific to young people, including how to retain young talent in the regions.

Question time was great. I particularly enjoyed seeing both the Ministers and Youth MPs acting on their feet to hold the Government to account; and the General Debate was where the Youth MPs shone, with many rousing speeches.

A highlight for me was being elected chair of the Primary Production Select Committee and heading our Committee's investigation..

My role as Chair included responsibility for presenting a report to the House, which contained a number of recommendations to the Government.

The Select Committee involved a lot of lively debate about what direction the members believed was best for the primary industries sector to take in the future.

The consensus was that it is vital the primary sector remains at the forefront of innovation; and that the sector is smart about the quality of what it is supplying rather than the quantity.

The view of the Committee was that while New Zealand is never going to be able to feed the world it can tailor its industry to produce high quality products to feed wealthy international markets.

Being a member of Youth Parliament, and being immersed in the history, grandeur and ceremonial elements of the House and the Parliamentary precinct made the two days all the more special.

It gave me the feeling of being in the thick of where some of the most important decisions in New Zealand are made.

"The calibre of Youth MPs at Youth Parliament, and their determination to represent their MPs and constituents to the best of their ability was truly mindblowing."