Summer reissue: The president of Young Act loves the freedom his party’s youth wing has to speak out and advocate for radical policy ideas. But are there certain lines that need to be drawn within the youth wing itself?
First published August 20, 2020.
Independent journalism depends on you. Help us stay curious in 2021. The Spinoff’s journalism is funded by its members – click here to learn more about how you can support us from as little as $1.
Felix Poole was a Green Party supporter in high school. Then, at university, he flipped to what many would see as the opposite end of the political spectrum. Now the 22-year-old is the president of Young Act.
He has found his political home in libertarianism. “I think you lose yourself politically in big systems like [Young Nats or Young Labour],” he says. “That’s why I like Young Act … I feel like what we advocate for and what our members advocate for is properly heard.”
One of the things Young Act advocates for is the legalisation of all drugs, a policy which is not shared or endorsed by David Seymour and the Act Party. “Young Act operates differently from other youth wings,” Felix explains. “We support the Act Party fully, and we’re gonna advocate for Act Party’s policies, but we also come up with our own ideas. We don’t just do what the party wants us to do, we’re a bit rebellious in that sense.”
More rebellious policy announcements were set to come out this year, but instead Young Act has gone into a form of hibernation while an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment within the youth wing is conducted. Former vice-president Ali Gammeter, who wrote Young Act’s drug policy, resigned from her role in May saying the youth wing was “an unsafe place for women.”
“A lot of right wing people, especially libertarians, don’t see a line, because they’re like, ‘oh, free speech, you can say whatever you want’, but that’s not really what free speech means,” she says. “Free speech is about the relationship between the citizen and the state, not between two individuals.”
The results of the investigation are yet to be released.
Youth Wings is made with the support of NZ On Air. Watch the previous episodes of Youth Wings here.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.