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My 2019 North Shore Youth MP is a Year 12 student from Westlake Girls Tayla Woolley. Tayla follows in the stilettos of my 2016 Youth MP Dani Clements-Levi who was very engaged in the role, encouraging students to take an interest in politics and stepping up to being a strong voice for youth in her school and community in a leadership role. I invited Dani to join me as a member of the selection panel to decide my 2019 YMP, along with local businessman Gary Monk and retired school Principal Fay Mason.

We were all impressed by the strong field of high calibre applicants to choose from and it was not an easy decision. The applicants were all asked to identify the main issues facing young people on the North Shore. Tayla identified gender inequality gaps and the misuse of alcohol, as well as mental health issues as challenges we face. Her well thought through submission highlighted the need for the  Shore Junction youth innovation hub to be a meeting place of minds for our young people, to draw collective strength from. Tayla quoted the powerful message from Ghandi: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ and emphasised the value of connecting the different generations to enhance the health and wellbeing of all age groups in our North Shore community.

Having been Minister for seniors for three years I’m very aware of the high level of elder abuse, with a minimum of 2000 reported cases annually. I remain very concerned about subtle and not so subtle financial and psychological coercion and the silent epidemic of abuse of older New Zealanders. That is one of the reasons why I remain firmly against the euthanasia and assisted suicide bill under the name of David Seymour that’s currently before Parliament. It offers no practical support or protections for the vulnerable including those with dementia, those who are lonely and likely to be predated on, in many cases, by their own family members. Changing the Crimes Act to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia - known as culpable homicide or murder - would in my opinion, have a devastating effect on vulnerable older people. Meanwhile, in my new responsibilities as Associate Health spokesperson, I’ve been working on a couple of important and emerging women’s health issues, in particular, the complexities of the problems many are experiencing with surgical mesh implants. 

Having been part of the group of MPs who received a 35,000 strong petition in Parliament from Metavivors with incurable breast cancer, I’m now very aware of the suffering and sacrifice of these courageous women and the hardship they have faced to buy expensive medications that will extend but not save their lives. Their request for a review of the drug funding agency Pharmac to ensure it is more flexible and enable it to fund life-extending cancer drugs is a very sensible one and, along with colleagues, I will be taking up their cause. Find out more about these issues on the websites www.breastcancer.org.nz and  www.meshdownunder.co.nz. If you have experiences or views you’d like to share with me please contact my office to make a time to meet.

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