PM says Youth Parliament incident that left student in tears was 'unfortunate'

The Prime Minister said today that an incident in Youth Parliament in which a teenager said she was left in tears after being interrupted during her speech about suicide was "unfortunate". 

MP Anne Tolley, who is Deputy Speaker of the House and was chairing the triennial Youth Parliament, told a Youth Parliament member to "put your notes away and tell us what you think we need". 

Seventeen-year-old Lily Dorrance was speaking about mental health in the school curriculum. Earlier in the speech, Ms Dorrance had spoken about a friend who had died by suicide. 

"I'm just trying, in the last minute that she has to get from her, rather than reading a speech, her views," Ms Tolley said during a point of order from another youth MP on the issue.

Ms Dorrance told the NZ Herald the experience was "humiliating". In a statement to the NZ Herald, Ms Tolley said: "I'm so sorry if I upset anyone and certainly apologised to a couple of people.

"I was trying to get them to speak 'from' their notes rather than just 'read' them in the general debate which, as you know, is a robust debate in Parliament."

Today, the Prime Minister said it was "unfortunate, I wasn't there so it's not really for me to judge the scenario, but I hope Lily is doing OK". 

The Parliamentary Speakers' rulings state where possible, members should not read speeches.

"That's a rule that exists in Parliament but it's not a rule I would have expected to carry over into a Youth Parliament," Ms Ardern said. 

"This was an incredibly big moment for these young people that had prepared for a long period of time to say exactly what they wanted to say on issues that mattered to them."

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A teenager said she was left in tears after being interrupted during her speech. Source: 1 NEWS

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