Wellington, August 4, 2019
Youth Parliament 2019 has called for serious action on Climate Change.
The government agrees.
We are taking action to stop new offshore drilling. We are investing into cleaner public transport. We are planting one billion trees to absorb carbon dioxide. We are setting up the Green Investment Fund to partner with business to fund solutions to Climate Change.
Importantly, our Zero Carbon Bill will help drive down our emissions to net zero by 2050.
We look at Climate Change as a big, long-term challenge. We have a plan to tackle it.
We are not looking at the next three years but looking ahead at the next 30 years.
It is a huge challenge and it’s going to take all of us.
We have a plan to safeguard our Planet and the future our children will inherit.
We are getting on with it – with the fierce backing of our young people.
My Youth MP for Mount Roskill this year was Saakshi Hedge.
A Year 13 student at Mount Roskill Grammar School, she was selected in October 2018.
In her video interview, which was part of her application, Saakshi impressed us by talking of her passion to advocate for the young people of Mount Roskill.
She has been a part of several not-for-profit organisations as a volunteer and has led a community project in Mount Roskill as part of her Duke of Edenborough experience.
At the time of her application, she stated that she stood for Innovation, Diversity and Representation. The selection process for the candidates for the role of Youth MP was challenging but Saakshi was appointed after a rigorous process involving a number of outstanding young candidates.
About Saakshi Hegde
Born in Pune, India, Saakshi moved to New Zealand with her parents and sister when she was just four years old. Her parents are professionals and her sister is at school.
Saakshi said that she always wanted to help people, even as a young child and make a difference to the world. She said that she found that opportunity and can give back to the community by being a youth MP.
Promoting Mental Health
Saakshi is very keen to raise awareness of mental health issues for young people, and to find practical solutions to help people who need support.
She has also been working closely with me on a major Climate Change forum we will be holding later in August.
In April this year, Saakshi took up a week’s challenge to stand against fast fashion by wearing the same outfit for seven days. She wanted to draw attention to the vast amount of clothes thrown into landfills every year and advocated to buy less or buy second-hand clothes to reduce the amount of waste we create.
More recently, she organised a volunteer clean-up of Dominion Road. Dominion Road is one of the longest roads in our area and the rubbish that accumulates on the street, filters down into the wastewater system, flowing to the sea. The project drew attention to the impact of littering on ocean life and in particular the problem of cigarette butts being thrown away in huge numbers.
Engagement with Democracy
Saakshi urges young people to get involved in our democratic processes and to engage with ideas and express their opinions. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with an intelligent and hardworking young person like Saakshi.
She has inspired me to strengthen my engagement with our local young people so that their views get fully heard in our democratic system.
I wish Saakshi well in whatever she choose to do in the future and also want to encourage other young people to have a go at getting into the Youth Parliament in coming years.
About Youth Parliament
Every three years, a group of young people bursting with fresh ideas replace the familiar faces who usually fill the Chamber of New Zealand Parliament. This gathering, called ‘Youth Parliament,’ brings forward many fresh ideas to make our country better.
Since 1994, Youth Parliament has given young New Zealanders an opportunity to try their hand at life as an MP. During their time in Wellington, students take issues that concern them to the Debating Chamber, to Select Committees and to Party Caucuses.
This year, a key theme was the anxiety that the next generation feel when they see the consequences of Climate Change around them. They talked of the real images that have made an impact upon them, the warming oceans, rising sea levels and extreme weather events that damage our land and our way of life.
Michael Wood is elected Member of Parliament from Mount Roskill and is Senior Government Whip. The above article, which appeared in ‘The Wire,’ (thewire.in) Web Edition on August 3, 2018. has been reproduced here with the permission of Siddharth Varadarajan, also a Founding Editor. The above article is an edited version.