What Would Parliament Look Like If Only Young People Could Vote?

Malcolm Turnbull would be cooked.

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

It’s hard being a young person in Australia. We’re locked out of the housing market, student debt is rising and it’s getting harder to find a job. Unfortunately there’s more bad news. When it comes to voting, we’re massively outnumbered by older Australians.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, those of us aged 18-30 make up about 19% of the total voting population. But voters aged 55 and over are a whopping 40% of all electors.

Only 1 in 10 voters are under the age of 24. Basically this means younger voters have less of an impact, in pure numerical terms, than our parents and grandparents. But it got us thinking, what if only young people could vote for Parliament? After all, a lot of the issues being debated like climate change, education and the economy will impact us more than our grandparents.

The polling company Ipsos regularly publishes age breakdowns of voting intention. Looking at those breakdowns we can get a pretty decent estimate of how young people are voting this election.

First up, how are all Australians voting? Averaging out the last four Ipsos results give us the following result:

All voters Ipsos

The Coalition is sitting on 43%, Labor is on 34%, The Greens are on 14% and other minor parties and independents are polling 10%.

But when we pull out voters aged 18-24 we get a very different picture.

Ipsos 18-24


Turns out young people are way less likely to vote for the Coalition than the rest of the population.

Amongst 18-24 year olds the Coalition vote drops down to 29%, Labor goes up to 36%, The Greens double their vote, hitting 28% and Other sits at 8%.

So what does this mean for Parliament? Well, it’s not that easy to translate raw votes to seats in Parliament. National polls like these aren’t always the predictor of what happens in each of Australia’s 150 House of Representatives seats. But since the combined Labor + Greens vote is sitting at a massive 64%, and the overwhelming majority of Greens voters preference Labor, there’s pretty much no way the Coalition would win government.

The Greens would probably win quite a few seats in the House of Representatives off both Labor and the Coalition and Labor would probably win a stack of seats off the Coalition. In all likelihood Labor would need the Greens to form majority government. Whether the two parties would actually work together is another question.

Good news if you’re a progressive Labor or Greens voter, not so good news if you’re keen as for the return of Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition.

Just to be fair, we took a look at what Parliament would look if only Australians over the age of 55 could vote.

Ipsos 55+


Basically it’s a landslide win for the Coalition. The Coalition gets a huge 52% of the vote and would romp it in over Labor, sitting on 32% and The Greens, with 7%. 

Recent analysis has shown that if enough young people enrol to vote, they do have the collective numbers to change the results in some key seats. The good news is that a record number of young Australians have enrolled to vote which means that even if we’re outnumbered at this election our voice will be louder than ever before.