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New Zealand is pretty rad when it comes to freedoms. We’re free to marry whoever we choose, we’re free to live our lives with legal protection from discrimination on a variety of grounds including race, sexual orientation, disability, and religious beliefs, and we’re free to express ourselves however we like, including speech.
One of the biggest acts of free speech is voting. In New Zealand, we have independently run elections where election fraud is extremely rare and the results are free from government interference. Unlike Australia, where you are legally required to vote, we in New Zealand can choose not only who to vote for, but also to not vote at all. It’s the option a lot of people our age are taking, with 42 per cent of people between 18 and 24 not voting in the last election.
Given that people in our age group represent ten per cent of the population, we have the power to make or change the government by voting, or choosing not to. I’m not particularly interested in selling a particular party or arguing what kind of politics is right or wrong for New Zealand, but I do know through talking to so many of you about the What Are You Voting For? campaign that you care about things like the quality of your education, cheaper public transport, equality, and having a job at the end of your degree. Talking about parties and politics makes most of us switch off, but we as students are passionate about these issues and there is a divide that we need to cross.
We here at VUWSA are going to push the politicians on these issues at our Great Political Debate next Tuesday, and over the next two weeks you will be able to vote in The Hub from 11 am to 3 pm. Come join us at the debate, ask questions, and head to the polling booth, more informed about the things that matter to you.
Free speech is rad, so don’t forget to use your voice!