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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". 

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

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."