An open letter to the politically apathetic Facebook generation #votenz

To all who will listen,

Voting: simple and easy, even from overseas.

Next Saturday, each eligible New Zealander will be given the opportunity to vote for who they wish to represent them in government for the next three years.

Unfortunately a large number of young people won’t use this opportunity and as a result their opinion won’t be expressed.

The sad reality is that many people will happily answer online polls, express frustration via status updates and in general complain (often quite rightly) about how crap it is to be young won’t leave the house to pop down to their local school or community hall to vote and make a difference where they actually can.

However, this is the true reality: there is more power in casting a vote than three years of online polls, status updates, and complaining combined.

In New Zealand, under the MMP voting system, every vote is equal, and every vote matters.

But, when you don’t vote you are giving up that equality, you are letting someone else decide, and they will surely decide what is best for themselves, not for you.

For young people this election is particularly relevant for two key reasons: minimum wage/employment and education.

Currently the minimum wage in New Zealand is $12.75/hour and in Australia it is $15.51 AUD/hour which converted to NZ dollars is $20.52/hour – almost double.

If National is re-elected to government their policy is to set a youth minimum wage of 80% of the full minimum wage. That would lower the NZ minimum wage to $10.20/hour – less than half that of Australia’s. In other words young people get screwed.

National have also spent the last three years in government making it harder and more expensive to access education. Entry to university and polytechs are now capped, fees have continued to rise, and it is much harder to get student loans and if National get re-elected expect this to get worse.

Put simply, youth unemployment is over 17%, there are few jobs, people who currently have jobs can expect to be paid less for the same work, and upskilling is a tough gig. Young people are being screwed.

However, most other parties have policy to set the minimum wage to $15/hour and increase access to education.

But while young people continue to moan on Facebook, and fail to vote, they will continue to be screwed by a government that doesn’t care about them.

Next Saturday is an opportunity to change that and elect a government that does represent you.

About a third of people under the age of 25 are not enrolled to vote. If this is you then please enrol you must do so before Friday 25th November. You can enrol here: http://www.elections.org.nz/app/enrol/

Most importantly make sure you go out and vote on Saturday.

Chur,
Passionate young kiwi, living in Australia, wishing to call NZ home again someday.