The 2019 Federal Election will have the highest voter turnout in history, with young people enrolling in greater numbers than ever before. The Australian Electoral Commission released its data on Tuesday showing that 88.8 percent of young Australians would be having their say come May 18.
It’s certainly at odds with what we’re made to believe about the next generation. For years, a persistent line about millennial apathy has dominated discourse. Media would have you believe that an apparent preoccupation with Instagrammable brunch options would trump any opinion we might have toward policy.
But the proof is in the pudding, (or rather the electoral database) and if major parties are smart, they’ll be doing their best to appeal to young Australians in the final 4 weeks of this election campaign.
Here are the issues millennials are likely to be tuned into this election:
Climate change policy
We’ll be the ones left on this planet in another fifty years, so it would be nice to have some assurance that we’ll actually have somewhere to live, as well as the generations who follow.
The ALP has promised significant investment in renewable energy sources, clean transport and infrastructure and caps on pollution for big emitters. But Labor leader Bill Shorten still hasn’t confirmed his position on the future of the coal industry and specifically Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. He stated this week that he wouldn’t be bullied by either environmental activists or those lobbying to approve the project, but would “adhere to the science, the law” without creating sovereign risk.
The ALP has promised to reduce emissions by 45 percent– a plan which has been labelled “irresponsible” by the government.
The Coalition Government will also inject big investment ($15 billion) into renewable energy over the next three years. But they’ve simultaneously walked away from the National Energy Guarantee– a framework which reduces carbon emissions and power prices while ensuring renewables.
The government’s promise remains to reduce emissions by 28 percent by 2030– a pretty conservative commitment given the severity of the crisis.
It’s still a nightmare getting on the property ladder especially in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne, so we’re cheering Bill Shorten’s re-affirmation to curb tax concessions for negatively geared investment properties.
The policy isn’t retrospective, so will only apply to properties purchased after January 2020 and not new builds, but it’s still a promising start and will no doubt make things easier for first home buyers. The proposal has been staunchly opposed by the government.
Putting yourself through university or TAFE without full-time income is no easy feat, and thousands of young people struggle to make it work.
Our parents were given the opportunity to attend university for free, but young people today are instead lugged with huge HECS debts and upfront costs for studying.
Adding to these woes, government subsidies like the Newstart allowance haven’t been raised in real terms since 1996, ($40 a day) and youth allowance for students under the age of 21 are even lower.
Both major parties would do well to review this and work toward a fairer system.
Treatment of refugees
According to the Western Independent, a news website run by Curtin University, the humane treatment of refugees is high on the list of policies that young people care about this election cycle.
Recent Medivac legislation backed by Labor, Greens and independents is likely to resonate strongly with millennials as well as Labor’s commitment to higher refugee intake and greater resources and support systems.
Gender equality and diversity
If recent global campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp have shown us anything, it’s that there’s a prevailing push toward gender equality driven in large part by millennial women.
Young people want to see workplaces and governments that reflect the world they live in. While women make up 51 percent of Australia, they make up only 37 percent of the country’s Parliament.
Ethnic and cultural diversity is also severely lacking with just 8 percent of major party candidates coming from non-Anglo backgrounds. Whilst only one percent of candidates have a disability compared to 18 percent of the population.
Young people are front and centre of agitating for change in this arena, and parties which are receptive and serious about implementing tangible solutions like quotas will be more readily backed.