Peter Dunne’s holographic assistant buys students beer
Recently the Hunter Lounge hosted the launch of Victoria University’s newest club, Victoria University Politics Society.
About 150 people attended the event, most of them students, as well as a decent number of MPs, councillors, diplomats, and other politically associated people.
Despite being in the capital, ten minutes from the Beehive, and buzzing with young hacks, this is the University’s first politics society.
A political debate questioning “How Do We Solve the Migration/ Refugee Crisis?” was the highlight of the night. The speakers included students George Dooley (an International Socialist Organisation activist) and Politics Society President Jack Gradwell; MPs David Seymour (ACT), Denise Roche (Green) and Peter Dunne (United Future); and activist and writer Marianne Elliot.
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Dooley’s speech was a little scattered and he spoke a bit fast. Some were taken aback by his suave suit and initially had marked him as a Young Nat. Overall, he wanted immediate action to increase the refugee quota, though he did not provide any specific numbers.
Gradwell had a bit of a muddled speech. He disputed the idea that “taking refugees is good or evil”, or even “that anything is good or evil”. Overall, “Nietzsche” Gradwell seemed to imply that building a big fence around New Zealand would make all problems pertaining to immigration disappear.
Seymour revealed that an attendee mistook him to be Peter Dunne’s assistant. He called New Zealand “the most thoughtful, diverse and tolerant society that the world has ever seen”. He wanted the refugee quota to better reflect New Zealand’s GDP growth and population expansion since 1987, but he also didn’t commit to any numbers.
Roche spoke of her disappointment that her bill to increase the quota to 1000, supported by all parties except National, was voted down. However, she gave a shout out to the Young Nats, for perhaps the first time ever, for standing up for a quota increase.
Dunne, wearing his signature bow tie, said New Zealand needed to increase the quota from 750 to at least 1000, to reflect the 44 per cent population increase since 1987. He expressed dismay at the racism and xenophobia levelled toward refugees in recent weeks.
Grace Carroll, a spokesperson for the society, said “we were pleasantly surprised with how well the evening went. The turnout exceeded expectation and the atmosphere was lively and cheerful… It helped that David Seymour was a good bloke and bought beers for students.”
Gradwell started the society this year with help from a group of Politics and International Relations students. Carroll said the society’s goal is “to build a student community, nonpartisan in nature, that acts as an open forum for a multiplicity of events and opportunities. In fostering robust, critical thought and engagement, PolSoc aims to cultivate civically informed and active students.”
The Society is open to anyone with an interest in or passion for politics.