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Young Act’s Ollie Murphy (Photo: The Spinoff)
Young Act’s Ollie Murphy (Photo: The Spinoff)

PoliticsSeptember 13, 2023

The making of a Young Act member

Young Act’s Ollie Murphy (Photo: The Spinoff)
Young Act’s Ollie Murphy (Photo: The Spinoff)

In the latest episode of Youth Wings, Young Act president Ollie Murphy explains how his Labour-voting parents accidentally created the ‘perfect’ Act voter.

There’s sometimes an assumption that young people will vote the same way as their parents. It’s an argument that’s been used in recent years to discredit the campaigning to lower the voting age to 16, and can dissuade younger people from engaging in politics at all. 

But as with any argument, it’s not entirely valid. Meet Ollie Murphy. The 22-year-old president of Young Act is proud to say he went on his own journey in politics, discovering for himself that he didn’t fully align with his parents’ beliefs.

Towards the end of high school, Murphy says he’d hear people label Act and its supporters “all the words under the sun”. But instead, he found himself agreeing with what the party was advocating. “My parents were both Labour voters and just by osmosis I was like ‘Oh yeah I guess I’m a Labour voter’,” Murphy says in Youth Wings. “I was like ‘I wonder how bad these [Act] people really are’? So I went on their website and I looked up their policies and I’m like, ‘These actually make a lot of sense’.” 

He thinks that there’s a risk of being stuck in an “echo chamber” with friends and family, but young people might change their mind about a party like Act if they actually attended an event.

“It’s quite interesting that there is that idea that Act and Labour are sort of diametrically opposed,” Murphy says in a conversation with his father (who describes himself as a “pragmatic left” voter). “Because people forget that Act came out of Labour. There’s nothing that necessarily makes Act right wing.”

Now, Murphy’s not just the head of Act’s youth wing. He’s also on the party’s election year list, meaning he could become the country’s youngest member of parliament. It’s a long shot – he’s ranked at number 28 – but it’s not an impossibility. Some polling this year has suggested Act could pick up close to 20 MPs compared to its current caucus of 10.

And while his parents may hold different political views, Murphy says that the values they instilled in him growing up actually helped him forge his own beliefs. “What I’ve been raised with by my Labour parents is the values of hard work and having a bit of responsibility for yourself,” he says. “They accidentally created the perfect Act voter.”

Watch more episodes of Youth Wings here. Made with support from NZ On Air.

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