Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

MPs grilled by school kids

Political parties at Grey Lynn School vow to get children involved in running country

Politicians Brendan Horan, Metiria Turei and Michael Wood with his son Daniel, 3, get set for pupils' questions. Photo / Greg Bowker
Politicians Brendan Horan, Metiria Turei and Michael Wood with his son Daniel, 3, get set for pupils' questions. Photo / Greg Bowker

Children at an Auckland primary school have won a promise from four political parties to let children help to run the country.

The Grey Lynn School children grilled National, Labour, Green and Internet Party politicians and independent MP Brendan Horan at the launch of a "tick4kids" campaign to bring children's issues to the fore in the election.

Jack, aged 11, asked them if they would consider having a student government that primary school children could be part of. All except Mr Horan said they would.

"We have students that do get involved," said National MP Alfred Ngaro, apparently referring to the Youth Parliament where each MP selects one young person aged 16 to 18 to represent them in Parliament for a week every three or four years.

Labour's Epsom candidate Michael Wood, a member of the Puketapapa Local Board, said his board had made one of its members responsible for children and talked with students before making decisions.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei said young people should be involved in decisions affecting them.

Internet Party leader Laila Harre said students could use the internet to tell MPs their views.

But Mr Horan said his NZ Independent Coalition did not agree with a children's government. "We need responsible people in Parliament," he said. "But we would have a Ministry for Children so that the teachers, caregivers and those people who are immersed in looking after child-ren can make sure their views are heard."

The politicians generally pleased their young questioners with their answers on issues such as stopping cyberbullying, paying teachers more and safer travel to school.

Ms Harre called for closing the "digital divide" - 200,000 children did not have internet at home.

But Hannah, 11, was disappointed when she asked for an Australian-style system where "gymnasts go to a special academy at aged 12 or 13".

The campaign, organised by Unicef and endorsed by 32 other groups, has produced a letter for people to send to candidates asking what they would do to support parents, address child poverty and ensure healthy and affordable housing.

tick4kids questions
• What will you do to ensure that parents are well supported and all babies get the best start in life so they can reach their potential?
• Will you support a comprehensive plan to address child poverty, including targets and measures?
• What will you do to ensure healthy, affordable and accessible housing? Do you support the Warrant of Fitness for housing in both state and private rentals?

tick4kids.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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