• Jack Ward

First-time voter weighs up bad options

This was an RMIT colour story exercise completed in my first-year studying a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism),


Melbourne’s Phoebe Billing is trying to weigh up which political party aligns with her views as she prepares to vote for the first time this year.


Like many young people, the 18-year-old has had enough of the hostility and lack of transparency within Australian politics.


“It’s all talk. I don't really feel I have time for it. I'm more invested in what's actually happening in the real world, and not what these so-called leaders have to say,” she said.


This disengagement with politics was echoed by an IPSOS poll of 1026 Australians in 2020, commissioned as part of the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership.


McKinnon Prize Ambassador Amanda Vanstone said it found a majority of Australians are not interested in the outcomes of the political process, or don’t expect any outcomes.


“It appears we are not connecting politics with positive change, nor acknowledging the way collaboration between political leaders can create real benefits in our own lives,” she said.


“It is concerning that 67 percent of young people could not name a politician who had a positive impact in 2020.”


However, Miss Billing is optimistic the lack of action she has seen from the Coalition government throughout its term is going to motivate her peers to vote with purpose.


She said her friends are frustrated with the ignorance shown towards issues important to them – such as climate change.


But in the early stages of the campaign, Miss Billing is struggling to find any clear alternative.


“Within my seat, the Flinders electorate, everyone's kind of just saying the exact same things. Their policies aren't actually mapped out,” she said,


“They just say they care about this thing but not how they’re going to change it. That's the vibe I'm getting.”


The Flinders electorate has been a Liberal strong-hold since conservative Peter Reith won Flinders back on new boundaries at the 1984 election.


Miss Billing said knowing the demographic of her electorate, she is apprehensive whether her vote will have any weight.


“It's such a strong Liberal seat with an older demographic and wealthy people. A lot of investment properties,” she said.


“I'll probably be one in a million [voting against the Liberals]. The ratio is just so off. I'm not sure whether my vote will count within my seat but hopefully it all adds up.”

Young Australains are being reminded by the Australian Electoral Commission to ensure they are enrolled to vote with their correct details by 8pm Monday, April 18.

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