Student Led Political Panel: A Huge Success

Date: 21 Aug 2023

Passionate about politics, and the future of Aotearoa New Zealand, four months ago Dilworth Year 13 Prefects Mukai Duder-Hura and Harrison Collins came up with a big bold idea – to host a political panel with local Epsom/Central Auckland MPs, from across the political spectrum.

Last week their idea turned into reality as Camilla Belich (Labour), Paul Goldsmith (National), David Seymour (ACT) and Chlöe Swarbrick (Greens) rolled up Dilworth’s front steps to attend a panel in the School Hall. A lively afternoon of debate followed, enjoyed by senior Dilworth students, and staff and visiting Diocesan Ākonga.

The big questions were on the economy, climate change and education, topics identified as the most relevant to young and first-time voters. The MCs then went onto a round of quick-fire questions - to keep the panel on their toes – finishing with questions from the floor.

So, what were the questions, who answered them and was there a clear winner?

The first big questions were on the economy. Unsurprisingly, the topic of the current cost of living crisis, how to deal with it and how to grow the economy pulled apart some distinct differences in political views!

ACT Leader David Seymour was up first. He kicked things off by acknowledging that people are finding it increasingly tough, he said “Kids have told me to make food cheaper”. He went on to explain that in the Act Party’s view, during Covid “governments shut the world down, printed more money and now it is payback time”.

His party’s view was that “we should be trying to get more business investment, to make business in New Zealand more attractive” in order to drive our way out of the current cost of living crisis. He also went on to say “Can we stop making rules and putting out orange cones” he contends it is holding people back and “People need a chance to make a difference in their own lives.”

From Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s response to the same question, it was clear that the Green Party had a starkly contrasting view. Chlöe talked to the students about what the term economy means saying “It means all of us – not just GDP’ (gross domestic product).” She went on to say that “wealth is concentrated in too few hands” and that “inequality and poverty suppress people”. For this reason, the Green Party believes in a wealth tax to level up the playing field and drive our way out of the current crisis.

Labour MP Camilla Belich outlined what the Labour Government has already done to deal with the cost of living crisis and took an optimistic view noting there was “light on the horizon with inflation coming down”. She also noted that “New Zealand is one of the easiest places in the world to do business” and that we need to “invest in technology so NZ can be a world leader.”

Finally, it was National MP Paul Goldsmith’s turn. He explained to students that "the economy is how we make a living as a country – the rest of the world doesn’t care so we have to hustle”. He went on to explain that from his party’s standpoint, “we want people to feel confident to invest, we want world-class education and to increase productivity’ to grow the economy by investing in infrastructure.”

The panellists went on to discuss climate change, which was very topical for students, before finishing the big three questions on the topic of education.

Following the big three questions it was time for a round of quick-fire questions. While the answers weren’t always quick, they were certainly divisive.

These are the questions that were of interest to students!

● Tax Cuts, yes or no?
● Fees free tertiary education, yes or no?
● Minimum wage increase, yes or no?
● The voting age, making it 16, yes or no?
● Marijuana Legalised, yes or no?

● Wealth tax, yes or no?
● Ban fossil fuels, yes or no?
● NZ to become a Republic, yes or no?
● Increase of the parliamentary term, yes or no?

Following the quick fire, the MPs were asked questions from the boys that had been submitted earlier. These questions ranged from healthcare, drug reform, wealth inequality and housing. The answers the MPs gave were outstanding and highly informative.

The panel not only generously answered the questions they were asked, but also tried to explain some of the economic concepts that arose as a natural part of their response, giving students a lot to think about.

Regardless of political views, of whether you sit on one side of the argument or the other, democracy was the winner with everyone agreeing that we are lucky to have a democracy and to have politicians that will turn up and debate like this.

Meanwhile, Dilworth’s MCs, Mukai and Harrison, are both clearly destined for further involvement in the area of politics!

Mukai, Prefect-Lead of the Student Council at Dilworth and last year's 2022 Youth MP for Labour Cabinet Minister Kelvin Davis is hoping to study a Bachelor of Communications, Majoring in Political Communications at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington next year.

Harrison, Prefect-Lead of the Service Committee, is also going down the political route and intends to do a double major BA in Politics and Biblical Studies at Otago. But first, he will head to the Royal School of Dungannon in 2024 as an international tutor.