Bill to have school drop-outs trained by military defeated
A private members bill which would have placed unemployed 15-17 year old high school drop outs into paid employment with the New Zealand Defence Force has been defeated in Parliament, by 74 votes to 45.
The Youth Employment, Training and Education Bill, sponsored by New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball, sought to amend the Defence Act in order to create a scheme for disengaged teenagers to spend three years learning trade skills in the Army.
Although the bill was supported by Labour and the Maori Party, it was opposed by the Greens and National.
Barry Coates of the Green Party claimed his Party was "concerned about introducing 15- or 16-year-olds into the military system", consistent with the Green Party's long history of anti-military rhetoric.
The National Party's reason for opposing the bill was less consistent and often appeared confused and self-contradictory.
List MP Joanne Hayes claimed that the bill would violate the school-leaving age of 16, despite the fact that the bill contained provisions to amend Section 20 of the Education Act thus negating this issue.
She also claimed, falsely, that the scheme would prevent its participants from gaining NCEA Level 2 and this would prevent them from being able to begin or continue a career in the defence force.
National further alleged that the programme would require additional funding, despite the fact that infrastructure already exists within the NZDF and the funding already accounted for under Vote Defence Forces in the budget.
National's objection on the grounds of cost was later contradicted by Wairarapa MP Alistair Scott, who attempted to compare the scheme with Charter Schools - a government scheme that cost an additional $5 -10 million of public money and produced only 9 schools, in doing so revealing that National's objections were more likely ideological than financial.
In his final speech on the bill, Ball alleged that National's MPs had not actually read the bill or the supporting documents, noting that "the questions that they have been asking were included in my speech; the rest were covered in the information booklet."