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Parliament comes to Invercargill (November 2019)

Published date: 12 Nov 2019

Proving that distance really is no barrier when it comes to engaging with democracy, Parliament visited New Zealand’s southernmost city on Friday 8 November.

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Students at St Theresa's School engage in a fierce debate.

Source: Office of the Clerk

Invercargill was the latest destination for the Outreach programme, and a group of four MPs visited two schools and a tertiary institution over the course of a busy day. The delegation included the Member for Invercargill, Sarah Dowie MP (National); a locally based list Member, Liz Craig MP (Labour); as well as Jan Logie MP (Green) and Jan Tinetti MP (Labour).

St Theresa’s School was the first stop. The mock Debating Chamber exercise saw a passionate debate about the merits (or otherwise) of school uniforms, with excellent arguments from both the ‘Government’ and the ‘Opposition’. Eventually, the Government won enough votes to pass its controversial bill to abolish uniforms.

Next up was a BBQ at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), where the MPs turned sausages and hash browns for students and took questions from them over lunch.

The final visit for the day saw the MPs participate in another Debating Chamber role play, this time at James Hargest College’s junior campus. More fierce debates took place here, with lively discussions around lowering both the legal driving age and voting age to 14. As was the case at St Theresa’s School, the role play was followed by an open Q&A session in which students quizzed the MPs on various aspects of their job.

“New Zealand is a small country, but Invercargill can still feel like a long distance away from Wellington and Parliament. That’s what the Parliamentary Outreach is all about – taking Parliament around the country to show all New Zealanders how easy it is to connect and engage with their House,” said Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, Speaker of the House of Representatives.