Youngsters grill city candidates

Last updated 12:00 16/08/2014

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From poverty to suicide, tax rates to education, Ross Intermediate School pupils put Palmerston North election candidates Iain Lees-Galloway and Jono Naylor through their paces at a school assembly.

Pupils had worked together to research and refine their questions to the Labour and National contestants.

Principal Wayne Codyre, who managed the applause, said the debate was an important one, even though the pupils were too young to vote.

"You are old enough to have an opinion, you are old enough to care."

National's Naylor agreed, telling pupils that the community and the country belonged to them.

Labour's Lees-Galloway said as the people who would outlive today's teachers and politicians, young people would make better decisions.

The interviewers took their task seriously, with Jonty Reading Robinson challenging Naylor about National underestimating the number of children living in poverty.

While Lees-Galloway took the opportunity to promote Labour's $60 a week best start payment for parents of babies in their first year, Naylor talked about there being different ways to define poverty, and the importance of reducing unemployment.

Neither was tempted by the suggestion to remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables, and they preached a similar sermon about smoking.

Caylee MacKay quizzed them about why middle-income working families were paying so much tax they struggled to pay their bills.

Lees-Galloway said increasing taxes on households earning more than $150,000 and introducing a capital gains tax would help. But Naylor said taxing high earners more only encouraged behaviour to avoid paying tax.

Other topics covered in the quickfire session with one-minute answers were road safety, earthquake recovery, and the minimum wage.

There was no clear winner on the day. Other interviewers were Emma Deakin, Anna Farrington, Amy Pine, Toni Hatfield, Stephen Houia, Tai Jenkins and Quentin Livingston.

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- Manawatu Standard

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