It’s over. Youth Parliament closes with a ceremony in Parliament’s Legislative Assembly. On the last day, the KGI’s Bill to introduce alcohol plain packaging was defeated, as was the Bill to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21 in Victoria.
Most importantly, this year’s Youth Governor, Will Stojkovski, handed the position over to Nada Aldobasic, now known as Her Excellency, Nada Aldobasic.
You could tell everyone, despite giving it their all for the week, were tired.
However, Mr. Omar Aldabel was named one of the best speakers in Parliament. This photo doesn’t do him justice. One of the Press Gallery’s favourites was Ms. Irena Vecris.
The Youth Parliament has been causing a stir in Victorian media: the Youth Premier, Oussama Abou-Zeid, spoke to ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning and the Wangaratta team saw a mention in the Wangaratta Chronicle.
On a final note, it has been the Press Gallery’s absolute pleasure reporting on Youth Parliament this year. Luckily, our work isn’t done. But one of the funnest parts (getting in a suit and sitting in Parliament) is over.
In the Legislative Council, the Bill has been passed with a nail-biting vote of 31 for and 29 against!
In the Legislative Council, the opposition has described mandatory volunteering as “child slavery” and “forced labour”. Sophie Rhule rebutted by referring to the description of “child slavery”, and asking: “Could you also liken this, that children not wanting to go to school is torture?”
The Bill has passed in the Legislative Assembly with an overwhelming majority. Speaker Wade Noonan said,
“How easy was that?”
In reference to the amount of time it took for the Bll to be passed.
In the Legislative Assembly, the Bill is currently being amended to potentially halve the amount of minutes per week the politics subject is to be taught and also the amount of weeks.
In the Legislative Assembly, teams are talking about how effective a year 10 politics subject would be.
The Hon. Nicholas West said,
“if the current curriculum is so good, then why do 48% of students not know how to vote?”
The government – in response – declared,
“If someone doesn’t want to learn something themselves, then it’s just not going to happen.”
In the Legislative Council, Olivia Campisi from the opposition has commended the government’s proposal, saying that she has been a school vice-captain and been involved in organising volunteering activities for students.
However, she has talked about the difficulty of having organisations accepting large numbers of students.
Things are getting personal in the Legislative Assembly. The opposition are questioning the integrity of the government and they have returned serve.
The Hon. Irena Vecris of the government launched an attack on the opposition. Her speech ended with,
“…and congratulations to the opposition, at least you tried.”
In the Legislative Council, the opposition points out that the terms “mandatory” and “volunteering”, are an oxymoron.
They are also discussing the feasibility of 100 hours mandatory volunteer by drawing comparisons with students going on exchange and moving states.
In the Legislative Assembly, the Pascovale group are introducing the compulsory political education of year 10 students bill.
The government argues,
“We must educate everyone, so that every single citizen in Australia has the ability to vote,” said Ellen van der Heide.
The opposition contend that,
“This knowledge will be lost before they actually really need it” – Hon. Kate Wall.
In the Legislative Council, the Bill calling for 100 hours mandatory volunteering for secondary school students is underway. The opposition has started off by called mandatory volunteering “ridiculous”. They are saying that other subjects such as maths and science are just as important but are not mandatory.
“Does the government imply volunteering is more important than these subjects?”
In the Legislative Council, it was questioned that the Bill be read a third time.
A division was required. The Bill was defeated.
Clause 5.1 was omitted from the Bill.
Amendments to Clauses 9 and 9.1 changed the wording to include family or legal guardian to include young adults who are no longer under the care of their families. A division was required. The amendment was not passed.
Amendments to Clause 10.
“The Bill will make it illegal, but will not eradicate underage drinking.”
Parental responsibility was raised several times in the Legislative Council. It was noted that it is legal for those who are 16 years old, with dinner and parental consent can be served alcohol. The opposition questioned the fairness of the Bill for those that do not live with their families.
The opposition continually accused the government as generalising the youth of Victoria as uncontrollable binge drinkers.
How can we have a responsible drinking lifestyle, if we cannot drink at all?
Mitchell Wood for the government, raised the rife amount of binge drinking, drink driving and alcohol fuelled violence present in the Victorian Media.
In the Legislative Council, Deena Mitchell for the opposition made the case against the governments ‘peer pressure’ argument, claiming herself and others at 18 often mix with those older to them.
Brought up amendment to other legislation in regards to liquor licensing and the Responsible Service of Alcohol course that will need to be retaken by many Victorians.
She also raised the potential economic deconstruction of the Melbourne Club Industry.
Hon. Miss Tasnim Tahrin
“The pressures to drink are especially high for young people.”
Hon. Emilia Eagling-Every brought up the argument of peer pressure and mindset of young people in making decisions in regards to drinking, claiming that by raising the drinking age to 21 there would be less social pressure.
“It’s about protecting Victoria’s youth.”
She added that education and plain packaging fundamental to the Bill.
In the Legislative Council the plain packaging argument was raised by the opposition. Anisha Purswani questioned why should the government make it so boring for those of age wanting to enjoy drinking?
She also considered the effect of plain packaging on imports from other countries.
The debate on the Bill for plain packaging of alcohol is underway in the Legislative Assembly.
“How dare the Victorian opposition deny Victorians of a healthy lifestyle” Mariette Spark said.
The opposition has started by claiming that plain packing has not worked to decrease smoking rates, that people smoke cigarettes because of its content not packaging, and that the proposed legislation will not work.
In the Legislative Council, Ivanhoe Girls Grammar prepare to debate their Bill, “Elevation for Alcohol Consumption”.
Team member, Erin McCubbery introduces the Bill.
“Even before the age of 18, you consume more alcohol now than ever. Alcohol is a drug, contrary to what people want to believe, and like all drugs, its consumption can causes serious harm”.
There were a few issues regarding the wording of the Bill, particularly at what age bracket the opt-in vote applies to and who can vote based on where they live.
The Bill required division, the bells are ringing!
The “Minors and Cosmetic Procedure Consent” Bill was passed.
“It was a very intelligent and well thought debate,” the Speaker tells the chamber.
Clauses 5 and 6.1 have been changed. A wrap for you shortly.
Up next in the Legislative Assembly, the plain-packaging of alcohol Bill. Jessica Lukjanow spoke to the KGI team before the Youth Parliament started.
The Opposition’s arguments for the last 15 minutes can be summed up in this quote from Cameron Nash:
“If you need help voting, you shouldn’t be voting at all.”
Juliana Bardoel has used the personal anecdote that her classmates do not have opinions on political policy, but instead focus on personality.
Tasnim Tahrin from the Government has called out the discussion of ‘youth’ and their political knowledge, saying
“Stop inferring their corruptibility.”
In the LA: Irena Vecris, delivers her usual refuting style,
“What if want to get a boob job? … With this Youth Parliament being a program of youth emporwment I am embarrassed by the opposition.”
Ashley Penrose argues that this sort of attitude, to chase the “ghetto booty” may result in a “lopsided boob job”.
But the government won’t buy into that either.
“You can’t just walk in and get a nose job on a whim.”
Wall still pursues the “freedom of choice” argument.
Meanwhile, Sam Meyer has some colour for the day:
Discussion in the Legislative Council has moved on to the education clauses of the Bill.
Jacob Mildren said the education program for young people would eventually lead to a better informed electorate, as the young people in question will become adults with sufficient political knowledge.
“Making a more informed Victoria.”
James Gover argues the opt-in system would prove young people are informed and need to have their voice heard in our democracy to
“Change the stereotype of young who don’t care.”
Refuting team Kilmore International School have raised the point that as voting is anonymous the youth vote would be impossible to track, and so their voice would be lost. Another team member has said that currently, voters are able to run for Parliament, so does this mean under 18s would be able to run for Parliament?
From government, refuting, Ashleigh Davis asks “What is wrong with looking like a bimbo?”
Omar Aldabel, also refuting, says this Bill does not deal with the media’s perpetuation of what a healthy body image is. He also asks what happens to transgender teenagers who wish to have a sex change.
Patrick Petterson, sponsor from Opposition, address the Government’s attack on the use of US statistics.
The government, he says has stated that Victoria doesn’t have the American pageant culture but says,
“Pageant culture in Victoria is increasing.”
But the government stands,
“The Opposition can’t provide Victorian statistics, but I can’t either.”
“Think of the children.”
In the Legislative Council, debate about the Optional Youth Voting Bill has centered on young people being encouraged to vote for the candidate or party a parent, guardian or friend votes for. There is also discussion about the ‘logistics’ of the opt-in system and flaws of the Bill as it stands.
Anthony Servoski from Bill sponsor Westbourne Grammar School said:
“We are all here for the empowerment of youth…. the opt-in system will finally allow the youth of Victoria to be heard.”
Mitchell Wood has raised the point that a 16 year old can legally get married, have consensual sexual relations, watch M and MA movies and get plastic surgery without parental permission – but not vote.
Opposition member Irene Park has raised the point that having opinions about politics does not equate to being informed politically.
“Waiting two years… is not a big ask.”
In the Legislative Assembly, back from a break, the debate around the Bill for more restrictions on cosmetic surgery for under 18s is started by Anthony Doyle, sponsor, in Opposition.
“The government may ask how does a 16 year old pay for surgery without any support from a parent? Well the answer is: employment.”
“Adolescence can be an identity crisis in itself.”
He argues that those around us make us who we are but we are not yet ready to fully appreciate these “critical decisions”.
He’s really yelling, this could be a great debate.
The government is rejecting the sponsors Bill and its reasons for doing so, pointing out they mainly use statistics from the United States.
This decision to restrict surgeries in Australia, the government says, would lead to more dodgy surgeries being performed overseas which would put more strain on the Australian health system.
The Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Act 2010 was passed with the overwhelmingly with a few amendments. The Legislative Council will be debating the Optional Youth Voting in Victoria bill that has been sponsored by the Westbourne Grammar team.
In the Legislative Assembly, the AIME Bill has passed with amendments to Clause 7.
LA: Division over clause 7. The amendment was passed. pic.twitter.com/ei9ckvIC7P
— YMCA Press Gallery (@YPpressgallery) July 3, 2014
The government had sought changes to a few amendments, so one out of four isn’t bad.
LA: “cultural awareness training provided to professionals in the education, health and legal system” from @TeamAIME passed with amendments
— YMCA Press Gallery (@YPpressgallery) July 3, 2014
In the Legislative Council, the government put forward to a fired up chamber;
“Schools can decline employment of a woman because she is unmarried. I’m sorry, but we don’t live in the 1950’s.”
– Hon. Mr Mitchell Wood
The opposition propose to a vocal government,
“Let’s force people’s perceptions…let’ see how this goes”
– Melbourne Girls Team
Hon. Mariette Spark tells the Opposition they are simplifying the debate by thinking that this Bill would solve all the problems.
The Press Gallery gets excited for some good quotes from the fiery Irena Vecris, refuting, and she delivers:
“This is an impractical way of going about it.”
Chris Saunders, sponsoring, from opposition is told to desist with his interjections.
“We should be educating kids, not adults … surprise, surprise, the Opposition has not thought this Bill through.”
Hon. Irena Vecris
“Knowing about the Tent Embassy or the Mabo Case will not improve understanding.”
Cries of “balderdash” from the Opposition as Joel Jones, refuting, speaks saying “knowledge does not change culture”.
Also please welcome Sam Meyer, Press Gallery snapper who was absent Monday and Tuesday due to illness.
In the Legislative Assembly:
Hon. Josha Liston argues that this cultural training should be made in schools, not businesses.
There’s little being done to address each other’s points. From the refuting team:
“Any professional at work should clearly be there on the precedent that they are not from a racist body.”
Hon. Maddie Sharp.
She argues that only professional educated people are culturally aware, and that people of lower pay grades are more likely to culturally unaware.
“What about the other cultures in Australia? Shame on the Opposition for neglecting other cultures.”
Hon. Daniel Chapman
Hon. Rachael Pulman tells the Government that in 2012 / 2013, 11,000 non-Indigenous Australians got jobs, whilst only 125 Indigenous Australians were employed
“The Government seems to think that Anglo Saxons were the first people on this land.”
Hon. Ellan van der Heide
In the Legislative Council, the Bendigo team has put forward an amendment to the Equal Opportunities Act 2010. The government argue
“why should an institution be prohibited from choosing an individual who’s personal beliefs align better with their own?”
The opposition said,
“this bill can’t stop employers from discriminating”.
In the Legislative Assembly,
“Knowledge of Aboriginal history should be considered essential.”
– Hon. Jessica Holding.
The Speaker, Nic Kimberley recognises members of the AIME mentoring program present in the chamber.
Everyone’s perhaps still waking up, or tired from a long week. The debates are quite tame. Give it a while.
Hon. Brad McDonald, from the refuting team, said Executives in businesses may be too busy, too tired to undertake cultural training. Also, he asks why shouldn’t there be a team to cultural train people on Sudanese, Muslim and Vietnamese community members.
Every member from the sponsor side acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation as they make their point.
In the Legislative Assembly, Jackson Ford from the Phoenix refuting team.
“This could be seen as a form of reverse racism towards the Aboriginal community.”
“It’s people in the lower communities, in the lower Social Economic Status’ that are deregotory to Indigenous Australians.”
The member then goes on to almost sing an entire verse from “We are one”.
Chris Saunders, from AIME, still argues its importance.
And to perhaps signal how this debate may get, the Speaker allows jackets to come off in response to the hear in the Legislative Assembly.
Kimberley Cody from the refuting team argues that only 2.5% of Australians are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, so why bother?
“It’s a waste of taxpayer money.”
Good morning you have a bit of catching up to do, in the Legislative Assembly the AIME team is tabelling their Bill to promote cultural understanding of Indigenous culture in Victorian workplaces.
The sponsor team opens arguing that “this Bill is here to create peace and harmony amongst indingenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”
Meanwhile: on Tuesday, Finbar O’Mallon spoke with Youth Governor, Will Stojkovski on Youth Parliament, politics and young people voting.