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March 1, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

ACT Party youth rates bill drawn from Ballot

Inner 15–17-year-old news writer not overly keen on earning less than the current minimum wage

Roger Douglas’s bill proposing an end to wage parity for youth employees will soon be under debate in parliament, after being pulled from the ballot last week.

The ACT MP’s members bill, Minimum Wage (Mitigation of Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill would amend the current Minimum Wage Act 1983 to end minimum wage parity and allow the government to set a separate minimum wage for youth (defined in the Bill as 15–17-year-olds) employees.

Youth rates were abolished after former Green Party MP Sue Bradford’s Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination/New Entrants) Amendment Bill was enacted in 2007, following strong support from the Youth Union Movement­—part of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

The bill has caused some controversy over whether New Zealand should return to the former, pre-2007 minimum wage model.

Young Labour President Patrick Leyland says the bill is not focusing on the right issues.

“What young Kiwis need is a solid plan to grow the economy and more to opportunities to up-skill, not a far-right bill that aims to see young people doing work of the same value, but getting paid less purely because of their age.”

Victoria’s ACT on Campus Vice President Peter “Milkshakes” McCaffrey supports the bill.

“ACT on Campus think that it is disgusting that politicians tell young people that they may not choose to work for less than the minimum wage should they wish to.”

Young National President Daniel Parkinson did not reply to an invitation for comment.


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Comments (13)

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  1. Regina Phalange says:

    “ACT on Campus think that it is disgusting that politicians tell young people that they may not choose to work for less than the minimum wage should they wish to.”

    Shame on politicians taking away the highly desirable right to earn less dependant on how old you are. Shame on them.

  2. peteremcc says:

    It’s not earning less Regina, it’s earning something instead of nothing.

    It’s not a choice between a $12.75/hr job or a $15.00/hr job if you don’t get offered a job because the company can’t afford to pay you.

    What’s wrong with $10.00/hr if the alternative is $3.00 – $4.00 /hr on the unemployment benefit?

  3. Raptor says:

    Equal work. Equal pay. Because every human is worth the same and every human’s time has a minimum worth that is of greater value than the market and it’s inherent fluctuations.

    Also, why is ACT so intent on making everyone work? Shouldn’t youth be encouraged to be in schools or, like ya’know, being youths and not slaves to the dollar.

  4. Alpha says:

    Lol @petermcc. We’re just full to bursting of companies who can’t afford to pay someone $2.50/hr more. That’s a lot to ask of the exceedingly wealthy corporations young people are likely to work for. Equal work, equal pay. That’s a pretty simple concept.

    And Raptor’s on the ball too.

  5. Stephen Whittington says:


    It is incorrect to say that it would end wage parity for youth employees. Article 30(2) of the Human Rights Act specifically allows employers to discriminate in the setting of wages between those aged over 20 and those aged under. There is no pay parity as a general rule. However, there is (as a result of Bradford’s Bill) parity when the employee over 20 is receiving the minimum wage.

    If it is a general matter of “same work, same pay,” then I suggest that those commenters who believe that should start some kind of campaign to repeal section 30(2) of the HRA.

  6. Stephen Whittington says:

    Also, in response to Raptor, the unemployment rate only measures those who are seeking work. The increase in the minimum wage for youth in fact led to an increase in the number of people dropping out of schools. So, if that’s your concern, then you should perhaps reconsider your position on the Bill.

  7. Freya Eng says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I would alert you to Section 4 of the Minimum Wage (Mitigating Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill – that is what I based my statement off, naturally.

    “4. Purpose
    The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act to end wage parity between youth (15 – 17 years old) and all other workers by enabling the Governor-General by Order in Council to set minimum wage rates defined by reference to the age of workers.”

    Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood that.



  8. Stephen Whittington says:

    That is correct, but it is read in light of the principal Act – that is, an Act that sets minimum wages.

  9. smackdown says:

    gimme some money i work hard all day every day

  10. Raptor says:

    Stephen: And the youth wage being raised to minimum made youth unemployment go down from 2001-2007 The point you are missing is that we should be encouraging youth into education and activities which allow them to find out what they want to be. If you get stuck in a dead end job at 16 then the chances are you’ll be stuck in dead end jobs for the rest of your life. It’s not productive for the economy and it’s counter productive on an individual human level.

  11. Stephen Whittington says:

    That’s not quite true Raptor. There was a study (Stillman and Hyslop), which found that putting 18 and 19 year olds on the adult minimum wage did not increase unemployment. It also found positive results for those younger (which may suggest they exchanged 18 y/o labour for 16 y/o labour.

    Minimum wages are most important when they are most binding. Large increases in the midst of a recession would be such a time. Hopefully Stillman and Hyslop is extended using the more up to date data. I assume this will happen at some point. Would you like to bet against it finding that high minimum wages have contributed to unemployment since 2008?

    Also, New Zealand has little data on income mobility, but other countries, like the US, have high income mobility. It is highly unlikely that those who receive low incomes today will also do so in 20 years.

    If you want to encourage people into education, then don’t make it harder for them to find jobs, because clearly those 39% of Maori unemployed are not going back to education.

  12. Three Wise Men says:

    you’re really annoyingly precocious

  13. smackdown says:

    stpehen “fuck you got mine” slittington

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