Friday, July 29, 2022

James Broome-Isa: I'm 17, but I can't support lowering the voting age

It has been a big fortnight for young people with a political bent.

Last week 120 Youth MPs sat and were reported on by 19 members of the Youth Press Gallery under the watch of the first Youth Clerk or Youth Parliamentary CEO.

In the week before that, the slick, well-funded campaign to lower the voting age to 16 was heard in the Supreme Court. “Youth” are seeking a declaration that the voting age of 18 is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

Being one of the Youth MPs privileged to sit in the big green chairs, I will not and cannot support lowering the voting age to 16.

The two days of the Youth Parliament and what followed proves to me that some need to practise what they preach. Many who spoke passionately about the need for their voice to be heard and for compulsory civics education showed an uncivil intolerance for our democracy.

The event that highlighted this for me was a pre-planned walkout, when Matthew Fisken, the Youth MP for ACT’s Nicole McKee, stood to make a speech on firearms. A number of Youth MPs left the chamber as he started to speak.

Did I agree with everything Matt said? No, but some of it I did. This was his speech on a matter important to him and he deserved the right to be heard.

Nor did I agree with all that other Youth MPs said, but I didn’t disrespect them or the Youth Parliament by walking out. Did I believe Matt had an equal right to be heard? Absolutely.

The Youth MP for Trevor Mallard spoke to 1News afterwards, claiming the walkout was not a “stunt”. That is not credible.

It shows that some who want to be heard at age 16 want only their voice to be heard. Not mine, not Matt’s. They believe in free speech so long as it’s their speech that is free.

This is not our liberal democracy the Youth Parliament is meant to champion. Storming out and having temper tantrums is not the Kiwi way. Having a contest of ideas is.

Right from day one, some Youth MPs made it clear that, if things weren't done their way, they’d act. One boasted during a break that, if anyone did anything he deemed “racist”, he would do a haka in the chamber.

Some wanted to annoy the Speaker in the hope of being ejected from the chamber.

Remember, this is from people who claim they’re mature enough to vote at 16. It makes it clear to me that they want the rights of an adult but none of the responsibilities, such as tolerance and respect for another’s opinion.

We heard plenty of speeches on mental health, racism, Māori self-determination, beneficiary debt write-offs, rape culture, CV skills, and of course, Make It 16. Another Youth MP, whose motion was refused by the Speaker, stormed out in a huff.

When it was my chance, I spoke on youth paediatric services, being someone with a lifelong chronic condition and having had a life-threatening disease.

I’ve got scars, but wanted to speak up for those who did not have this awesome opportunity. I wanted to raise the absolute need to end an age barrier in healthcare that denies those under 16 access to “adult specialists”, despite chronic conditions being no respecters of age.

Not every area can have a Starship, so we must deliver to all patients, wherever they are, the full expertise of doctors, irrespective of age. By not doing this, we are paying the price in social and other health costs. Never mind in prisons.

It's easy to look for problems, but another to advance solutions not slogans. This is why the voting age must remain at 18.

When it comes to healthcare, “Don’t Make It 16” is a campaign I’d back.

James Broome-Isa is a Youth MP who represented National MP Nicola Willis at the tenth Youth Parliament. He is 17 and a student at Wellington College. This article was first published HERE


DeeM said...

So we're grooming kids at 16 to be MPs.
And many will very likely go straight into politics after attending tertiary woke school aka university.

That's what we've got at the moment!!
A bunch of no-hopers that have been submerged in politics all their lives with no practical real-world experience.

I am completely against this. We need MPs who have done something in the real world and take these skills and experience into government so that all of us can benefit.
Having a generation of MPs whose average age is 25 will be disastrous for this country.

Anonymous said...

Very well said James. I completely agree with you. This is just a fad. I wish many of the over 18 voters had your common sense. ( How not to read as patronising? No! This is one thinking (and incidentally very old) human being to another.)

Ben Waimata said...

Excellent thoughts and well presented. While I agree entirely, it is also true that you are demonstrating exactly the maturity that shows perhaps some 16 17 year olds should be allowed to vote!

Unfortunately the walk-out cancel culture is not limited to teenagers. James Broome-Isa is demonstrating a strength of character that many of our real MPs appear to lack.

Kiwialan said...

This young man has more brains and common sense than the whole bunch of woke racists trying to govern our beautiful Country now. What the hell is a stone age war dance doing in our parliament? Kiwialan.

Terry Morrissey said...

I hope you made your views loud and clear to the other precious little snots who did the grandstanding James. Of course you realise that very many of the "adult" MPs also lack maturity and make fools of themselves but then they haven't had much in the way of life experiences either.
Not a lot of chance of getting through to Dr Dolittle on the health front though he doesn't really live in this world. Good luck Nicola can be proud of you.