Updated: Mar 12
Young people make up around 10 per cent of the voting population, but they often feel left out of the discussion when it comes to politics. We talk to four first-time voters about their thoughts on the upcoming Federal election, and what issues matter most to them.
20-year-old Grace Frederickson is one of the 700,000 Australians who registered to vote for the first time this year.
“There’s a lot more talk than there is action,” she said.
On the 18th of April, the AEC recorded the biggest single day enrolment in history, where 214,000 Australians signed up to vote. First time voter Oliver said many young people have “checked out” from the media’s election coverage.
“It’s just very disheartening when you feel like the last three or four governments have just done nothing in terms of climate change,” he said.
The rising cost of living, climate change and healthcare were the three most important issues for 18 to 34-year-olds in polls conducted recently by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Oliver is concerned about housing affordability, the cost of living and climate change.
“As soon as you buy a house, you're shackled with debt pretty much for the rest of your life, and there's no guarantee really, that you'll be able to pay off your mortgage,” he said.
As a science student, Grace is also passionate about protecting the environment.
“The Government needs to be looking out for future generations and prioritising renewable energy sources,” she said.
Grace is concerned that she has not done enough personal research about the Federal election.
“I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t done enough research,” she said.
“We need to be educated if we want to shape what our future will look like.”
She said most of her information about the election comes from social media and watching the news, but she doesn’t see social media as a reputable source. Oliver agrees that there is a lot of misinformation online about the election.
“I try to stay away from Facebook as much as possible because it's just absolute garbage,” he said.
“There's a lot of misinformation on there, so I try to stick to legitimate news sources.”
He said he had to switch off from politics occasionally due to “election fatigue.” 21-year-old Mika is also feeling the election fatigue.
“I am not particularly knowledgeable about politics because I don’t want to be near something that is so toxic,” he said.
“It’s a place where you can just say something and get cancelled.”
The most important issues to Mika are climate change and education. He would like to see increased funding towards universities so that students studying in Australia can have a more affordable education.
Mika plans to do more research about the upcoming election online. He said his family does not discuss politics at home.
“My Dad and I spoke about the election for the first time yesterday,” he said.
Twenty-one-year old Nazeeha Mooosajee said politics is not a “dinner table conversation” for her family either.
“It’s definitely a case of personal research for me,” she said. “My parents don’t talk about it all.”
Nazeeha said it can be time consuming to research political parties and their policies, which discourages people from being politically engaged.
“I feel like there’s a good number of people who just pick random squares,” she said.
In the 2019 Federal Election, Australian Election Study Data found that 44% of 18 to 24 year olds voted for Labor, 37% voted for the Greens, and only 15% voted for the Liberals.
Nazeeha and Grace are tossing up between voting for the Labor Party or the Greens, and Mika is planning to vote for the Greens. As a whole, they were generally dissatisfied with the current Australian Government.
“I’m not hugely into politics, but from what I have heard and seen on the news, it does seem like politicians don’t seem to stick to their words and promises,” Grace said.
Article: Rachel Jackson
Photo: John Englart