(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.
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
“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.