Politicians try to woo young voters in fiery debate

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Housing and climate change caused the most heated exchanges at TVNZ’s young voters debate yesterday, an event far more colourful than last week’s debate between Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Judith Collins.

From left, ACT's Brooke van Velden, Robert Griffith from NZ First, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, National MP Simeon Brown and Labour MP Kiri Allan.

From left, ACT’s Brooke van Velden, Robert Griffith from NZ First, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, National MP Simeon Brown and Labour MP Kiri Allan. Photo: RNZ/ SUPPLIED

Kiri Allan from Labour, Simeon Brown from National, Chlöe Swarbrick from the Greens, Robert Griffith from NZ First and Brooke van Velden from ACT squared up against each other in a lively evening hosted by Jack Tame.

At times, it seemed like an Allen, Brown and Swarbrick show, with van Velden and Griffith hardly getting a word in.

Tame’s first “curly question” asked what the respective parties would do to relieve the financial burden on younger generations.

Allan said Labour’s plan was to make sure “every dollar we’re investing is in things like sustainable futures”.

Brown’s line repeated what’s been heard from other politicians in National this campaign: A focus on stimulating the economy with a short-term tax cut and growing jobs.

The Greens had six policies to help youths but what Swarbrick focused on was a guaranteed minimum income: $325 per week.

Van Velden had a crack at Labour’s Covid-19 recovery plan and its debt levels, likening the impact its borrowing would have on future generations to “fiscal child abuse”.

That earned her a sharp, angry rebuke from Swarbrick, who called the remark “disgusting”, before launching into the subject of child – and family – poverty.

Swarbrick’s lack of enthusiasm for van Velden’s response appeared to be reflected by the crowd, whose responses to the ACT candidate were lukewarm throughout the evening.

Griffith claimed his party’s plan was the only one where “someone doesn’t lose”.

Next issue up was housing.

Brown’s take was that the cost of housing was an issue, but he focused on the Resource Management Act: “We’re not just going to reform it, we’re going to burn it and replace it.”

He got into an argument with Allan, starting when he accused Labour of stopping “more houses being built at Ihumātao than they’ve actually built through KiwiBuild”.

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