In the lead up to the federal election, and what a long lead up it is, there has been a lot of talk about young voters in NSW and Australia. Voter enrolment for the Federal election closed last month, and you would have to have been living under a rock to miss calls to action on social media for young voters to get on board. Politicians and thought-leaders, journalists and artists alike are talking about how and why young people aren’t engaging with Australian politics. The statistics are there to back it up, with the Australian Electoral Commission revealing that that 20% of eligible voters did not cast a vote, and a whole 25% of young voters were not enrolled. As the ABC notes, a whopping 400,000 potential voters aged 18-24 across Australia that have not enrolled, meaning they won’t be able to vote in the federal election.
To start with, I would like to strongly urge all young people to enrol and vote at all levels of government. Scratch that, I would like to encourage all people to vote – but with such a large percentage of young people not engaged with politics on a national, state or local level, Australia should address young voters and their concerns. That non-engagement is an important part of why this issue is relevant. Making up about 30% of theAustralian electorate, youth voting remains ambivalent to any ideological direction. The ABC also highlights that leading youth organisation polling has found more than half of young voters in Sydney are politically undecided and un-aligned to political parties (link).
It seems to me that there are two key reasons for youth voter apathy – first, there is a misconception among young voters about the power of their vote. A sense of insignificance in the large scheme of the political process. But, there are a lot of young voices, so let’s make them heard! I believe the second to be a disconnection and distrust of the major parties. A sense that neither party is acting in their interests or is able to bring about real change for young Australians. The Greens party are meeting some of this need but young people are also increasingly turning to Independents (like me!)
Youth Action, a Sydney-based youth services body, have polled issues that matter to young people during the federal electionand they go something like this; pro-asylum seeker policy, marriage equality, climate change and environmental policy, education reform, employment (particularly for recent graduates and young people) and, interestingly, tax reform regarding negative gearing.
I’m speaking now to young voters that might read this post – what matters to you in the City of Sydney, and how can I as a candidate for Lord Mayor respond? I want to know what local issues matter to you, and what don’t. Please, message me on Facebook or twitter, email via contact form (top left) or write me a letter (somehow I don’t think many young voters use snail mail) and let me know.