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Prime Minister ‘impressed’ with Youth Parliament

Saturday 30 April 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Prime Minister ‘impressed’ with Youth Parliament
(File photo) Prime Minister Mark Brown. Photo: LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 21031938

Prime Minister Mark Brown was “very impressed” at the topical issues raised, questioned and answered during the Youth Parliament 2022 mock parliament sitting held at Parliament House on Thursday.

Questions posed by the ‘Opposition’ included matters concerning crypto currency, waste management, Covid-19, the reopening of the borders and reliance on the tourism industry, the increase of the child benefit and maternity leave to a year.

“It’s interesting to hear from the youth perspective and how they answered questions from their experiences, being grilled can be daunting and a lot of the responses were good,” PM Brown said.

Brown addressed the participants during the break with words of encouragement, “listening to the views of young people and how you respond is very useful,” he said.

 “You’ll find that when you’re sitting in parliament a lot of you sit for a long time, what you’re doing is just listening, a few people will ask questions… many questions are directed to the Prime Minister and the Ministers.

“So, when people say that you’re not doing any work at all and you should be in Parliament, MPs actually do more work outside of parliament than inside parliament.”

Parliament’s role is to enact and pass legislation, and in order to get to the stage to pass laws, a lot of consultation and discussions are done with the constituents and people, to get their views on certain matters, he added.

He expressed that patience and listening plays a big role in being a Member of Parliament, and that there is a lot of engagement at grass roots and stakeholder level.

The representation from the young people who are enthusiastic getting into something unfamiliar, and having the ability to answer questions and share solutions they think might work, “really bodes for us, for our country’s future democracy and our parliamentary system”.   

As a youth, PM Brown “had a very cynical view of politics and politicians in general”.

“You realise there’s no good sitting on the outside complaining about things, you’ve got to get in there and make a difference if you really feel strongly.

“I’ve gone from a very cynical young person to becoming quite a passionate politician.”

PM Brown said he would have thought youth parliament “was a waste of time” if it was available to him when he was younger.

“So I’m glad these kids actually took the time to go and do it.

“I’ve got to say, the way they spoke in both English and Maori, if this is the future of our politicians we’re actually in pretty good hands with the way they compose and hold themselves within the proper parliament house.

“I think they did a good job a very good job.”

Looking forward, “if this is the calibre of our young people coming through, then our country is in pretty good hands, congratulations and keep up the good work,” said PM Brown.

Member of Parliament Agnes Armstrong was also praising of the youth parliament session and was “pleased at the structured questions presented from a youthful aspect”.

“They do tend to think outside the box, I was quite overwhelmed listening to the questions and answers, it’s good to keep the youth involved and overall it is a good initiative and I congratulate the Youth Council for this,” Armstrong said.

The Youth Parliament is funded by UNESCO and the Parliament of the Cook Islands.