Young Aussies ignored in federal poll

As the federal election looms experts have indicated political parties need to be doing more to ensure the trust of younger voters.

Twenty-five-year-old prospective Labor candidate Eric Kerr believes young people are under-represented across the wider political landscape.

“There is not nearly enough youth representation in parliaments across the country, but particularly our federal one,” he said.

Mr Kerr, who’s standing for the Victorian seat of Indi, believes that if elected he’ll be able to use his youth and energy to contribute to much needed change within Australian politics.

“For a long time in Australian politics, in a lot of areas diversity, gender, but particularly age we’ve seen a distinct lack of politicians who capture what youth really want and are needing,” he said.

“Your political leaders need to be a representative of the cohort they’re representing.

“Having young people represented as candidates, in parties and in parliament is hugely important.”

Percentage of Australians eligible to vote vs each demographic’s representation in federal parliament. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Murdoch University senior lecturer in global politics Dr Ian Cook believes young people should be very concerned about an overwhelming lack of political representation.

“Young people should start thinking very carefully that their futures aren’t being represented in parliament,” he said.

“If I was a young person I’d be really disappointed.”

Recently, 24-year-old Greens senator Jordan Steele-John introduced a bill to Federal Parliament to introduce voluntary voting for Australians aged 16 and 17.

Mr Steele-John said its rejection highlights that the Australian Government subdues young Australians.  

“These important reforms are proof the Australian Greens movement is the only party committed to realising the rights of my generation, and ensuring young people have a voice in politics,” he said.

“Under 35-year-olds make up more than 40 per cent of our population yet just over 1 per cent of our Parliament.”

Senator Jordan Steele-John marches with young Australians at the youth led strike for action on climate change. Picture: Simon Stevens.

An overall lack of young people being represented in politics is motivating parties to recruit candidates based solely on their age.

Curtin University student Jake Santa Maria said he was recently spectating at a United Australia party campaign launch when party members attempted to recruit him.

“They suggested I should run in one of their vacant seats, because they weren’t properly represented by my demographic,” he said.

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