If You’re Pissed Off About The State Of Australian Politics You Need To Enrol To Vote
The 2010 election was decided by a little over 30,000 votes.
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 25, there are a number of things you have a right to be mightily annoyed with. Perhaps you’ve recently finished university and you’re entering the worst jobs market for graduates since we started taking measurements in 1982. Maybe it’s the fact that housing has become so expensive that the average salary will buy you a car space in Sydney’s CBD.
Your rage might be directed at our refugee policy, the ever-increasing cost of education, economic policies that heavily favour the rich, or an Austudy allowance for full-time students that’s a whopping $183 per week below the poverty line.
You can be pissed off about all these things. But if you’re one of the 400,000 young Australians who haven’t enrolled to vote, the fact that our political parties don’t really care that much about the issues that concern you shouldn’t be that surprising. It might be even a tiny bit your fault. With so many young Australians not enrolled to vote, there is absolutely no incentive for their representatives to listen.
A 2013 study published by the Whitlam Institute found that if enough young people spent three minutes filling out this Australian Electoral Commission enrolment form, there’d be enough of them to sway an election. “Young voters represent approximately 30 percent of the electorate,” said Eric Sidoti, who co-authored the report. “This substantial proportion of young voters means that a major shift in the youth vote will be sufficient to change an election outcome.”
The 2010 election was decided by a little over 30,000 votes. Imagine the years of political carnage we could have avoided if even a portion of those 400,000 people got off their arses, enrolled to vote and made a decision — any decision.
It’s not as if we don’t care about politics. Tens of thousands of us have marched in the streets to protest lockout laws, support asylum seekers and to force action on same-sex marriage. So why are so many disengaging from the one thing that really makes a difference?
It might have something to do with the way our leaders talk about the issues that concern young Australians. When the Prime Minister suggests that the best way to get into the housing market is to borrow money off your folks, it’s no wonder young people see politics as a system that’s completely oblivious to the issues they face. But what came first: politicians not giving a damn about the issues that concern young people, or young people tapping out of the process by failing to vote?
As much as we might like to demonise them as inhuman reptiles who care only about helping out their donors and climbing to the ladder to a merry-go-round Prime Ministership (that since 2007 has lasted, on average, a little less than two years) our leaders are like the rest of us in one respect: they really would like to keep their jobs. If enough of us bothered to vote, those at the top would have to listen up. Their jobs depend on it.
Enrolling to vote is simple. If you’re aged 18 years or over, head here before Monday, May 23, 8pm to enrol.