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.

Photos: Sculpture by the Sea 2011

This morning I walked along the coast from Coogee to Bondi to check out Sculpture by the Sea. My idea was to do the walk early enough in the day to avoid the big crowds – as it turned out lots of other people had exactly the same idea!

However, as the photos attest, today was one of those moments when I love living in Sydney. The weather was perfect – not too hot, not too cold, and people were out and about smiling and enjoying the day.

These photos only represent a very small section of the artwork on display. In total there are over 100 exhibits and despite taking 250+ photos I still missed a lot of things.

An added bonus to my walk was seeing a Blue Tongue Lizard for the first time in the wild. I would have expected it to be hiding from all the noise but it seemed content enough to stick around and pose for me.

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Photos: Hiking Berowra Valley Regional Park

I spent today hiking from Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra with friends from my university. The highlight of the walk was seeing a number of lace monitors (goanna lizards) and a water dragon. At one point I almost stepped onto the top of one of the goannas as I came over a small ridge.

Overall, the day was brilliant and I am absolutely spent now as the heat really sucked energy out of me.

Unfortunately, despite the beautiful weather this will probably be the last hike I do this year as it is getting too hot in Sydney which brings out the snakes and raises the fire danger.

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