With a bill such as the Zero Carbon Bill which disproportionately impacts our futures, youth are taking matters into their own hands writes Bruce Kidd from Generation Zero.
Ever felt the guilt of wanting to voice your concerns on key issues but are unsure where to start? You go to the website to put your submission in and immediately freeze when starting to answer the question box on what to write.
Rangatahi all over Aotearoa are continually alienated by the processes involved with writing and sending submissions for bills in Parliament.
The Zero Carbon Bill, which is currently open for submissions to the Environmental Select Committee, is a key example of a process that is disproportionately impacting rangatahi, especially tangata whenua, those of colour, on low incomes, and with functional diversity.
This is why youth-led organisations like Generation Zero and School Strike 4 Climate are taking matters into our own hands by hosting our own submission parties throughout the country!
We reached out to rangatahi who were not involved in climate change groups and we found that they felt their opinions didn’t matter or would have any impact on the government’s decisions, and they did not know how to submit on a bill.
But, they universally cared about decisions made in Parliament and were dissatisfied with their voices and ideas not being considered.
Saakshi Hedge, who is a member of the NZ Youth Parliament, discussed this more as being “kept away or silenced during ‘adult conversations’ which is why we instead try to do our part by following the information we have available to us, mainly through social media because we don’t think we can be part of the bigger movements or changes that are happening”.
This imbalance cannot continue any longer for a functional democracy. Especially when actions that are taken now will decide whether or not rangatahi have a planet to live on.
“We are taught about the basic branches of the government but there’s nothing about how we can give our input into decisions made other than voting, which is why, without guidance, making a submission is a daunting task”.
Another rangatahi, Michael Howell from the Puketapapa Youth Board, concluded that “Youth voice are vividly important to the Zero Carbon Bill and often it is only through groups - like Generation Zero, which can share youths voice on their behalf - where rangatahi feel their voice is heard”
Generation Zero had held submission parties throughout the country, with the final party in Auckland today with School Strike 4 Cliamte at 5.30pm-8.00pm on K’Road at The Thievery Studio.
Bruce Kidd - Co-convenor for the Generation Zero Auckland Zero Carbon Act Team
Photo Credit: Sarah Rosemary, at Dunedin SS4C.