This election has seen a significant change in our Parliament, with National and ACT set to make up our next government, possibly with the help of NZ First too.  

Political campaigner Max Harris and climate activist India Logan-Riley shared how they think this election result could impact rangatahi in Aotearoa.

Regardless of how young New Zealanders voted in this election, the results will have a big impact on their lives and not necessarily for the better, says political campaigner Max Harris.

Climate activist India Logan-Riley says this is particularly true of the issues young people said they cared most about in a recent IPSOS survey - cost of living, climate change and rainbow rights.

“[Looking at National, ACT and New Zealand First’s policies] in terms of transformational solutions for our young people, there’s not much there,” Logan-Riley says.

Young people and our new Government

Throughout the campaign we largely saw National, ACT and NZ First pitching policies about young people, rather than for them, Harris says.

“Where young people got the most attention this election was as ram-raiders, and not as sources of potential political visions.”

The new Government has aimed many of their policies at middle and upper-class New Zealanders, many of which Harris says will negatively impact young people.

“For example, National has promised to drag back renters rights, which will disproportionately impact young people.”

During the campaign National promised to “make it easier to be a landlord” by allowing tenants to be evicted within 90-days of occupation and without giving reason. They also plan to stop fixed-term rentals rolling into long-term rental arrangements.

Young people highlighted cost of living as their biggest concern this election, but Harris says the tax relief solution proposed by National “won’t help young people very much”.

Someone working full-time on minimum wage would get $10 of tax relief a week from National’s tax relief policy

National’s government and climate

Looking at the right-wing party's policies, Logan-Riley says whatever the makeup we will “have a government that is committed to ramping up the climate crisis”.

“The most worrying thing for me right now is that New Zealand First, ACT and National all agree they want to get rid of the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration,” Logan-Riley says.

“I think that is a slap in the face to the communities who survived the cyclones and floods earlier this year, as well as the young people who should be rightly really angry that a bunch of older folks want to commit us to a really dangerous and uncertain future.”

Both National and ACT want to return the money raised from the Emissions Trading Scheme back to New Zealanders, which Logan-Riley says undermines our ability to respond to the climate crisis.

“They are planning to pillage the Emissions Trading Scheme as some weird shareholder payout for New Zealanders, rather than treating it as a way to move away from high emissions.”

National’s climate policies focus on doubling the amount of renewable electricity New Zealand produces, while ACT wants to repeal the majority of our current climate legislation, including the Zero Carbon Act.

“Across the board, [the new government] is not great on climate,” Logan-Riley says.

Silver Linings 

Logan-Riley thinks the silver linings of this new government for young people will come from the coalition negotiations.

They highlighted New Zealand First’s policy of excluding trans people from bathrooms as an example.

“Luxon said we don’t care about the bathroom situation, because that’s not a situation.

“Not that National are bastions of queer rights, but that they might not allow the worst of that to get traction,” Logan-Riley says.

Harris says coalition negotiations might also temper ACT and New Zealand First’s stances on redefining Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles

“National seemed to have indicated they understand how divisive that would be because a growing number of people, particularly young people, think supporting Te Tiriti is good for everyone,” Harris says.

One of the main policies aimed at young people this election was Labour’s proposal to make basic dental care free to people under-30. 

While this policy is unlikely to progress with Labour losing the election, Harris says New Zealand First has a policy to provide a free yearly checkup for 18-25 year olds which may proceed if they are in government.

Power of the (young) people

While the election results will be pleasing for some, and disappointing for others, both Harris and Logan-Riley say it’s important to stay engaged beyond the election - particularly for young people.

“There isn’t just one moment every three years where the government has to seek a mandate,” Logan-Riley says.

“If these parties are meaningful about responding to young people's aspirations, then they will continue to seek mandates and clarify what we want and need going forward.”

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