By: Samantha Motion
There are wins for young in the policy deals Labour has struck with New Zealand First and the Greens – but some potential fishhooks too.
Mount Maunganui College students Samuel Taylor and Sam Sheaff, both Year 11, were happy to see action on improving mental health coming through in the youth-focused policies.
The Greens secured free counselling for under-25s and NZ First and Labour agreed to re-establish the Mental Health Commission.
Sam, 15, who said he had no particular political leaning, said New Zealand’s teen suicide rate was among the worst in the world and something needed to be done.
National Party supporter Samuel agreed it was a problem that needed to be addressed but was not sure a blanket “free counselling for all” approach would be effective.
He would rather see a more targeted scheme to make sure the money went where it was most needed.
The 15-year-old, who plans to pursue a career in politics, is also concerned about the minimum wage hike.
The Government has said it will push up the minimum wage to $20 by 2020.
As a checkout operator and one of the most junior on the team, Samuel worried for his job.
“I think I would be the first to go if the minimum wage went up.”
Samuel said his biggest disappointment from the policy announcements so far was Labour and NZ First’s promise not to raise the retirement age from 65.
“I think that will come back to bite us. It’s not a realistic expectation to carry on like this.”
NZ First leader Winston Peters has said the “new generation” SuperGold card in his party’s agreement with Labour will come with more entitlements, as promised during the campaign.
He has previously said the card would be a loyalty card and a bank debit card, providing automatic discounts when used to purchase goods and services.
Included in Labour’s deals with the Greens and New Zealand First are:
– Free counselling for those under 25 years
– Offer free driver training in all secondary schools
– Make tertiary education more affordable for students
Source: Bay of Plenty Times
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