Gen Y left high and dry in the 2013 Australian Election

Australia is currently in a post-election state of purgatory and it’s undecided whether the results will lead us to the damnations of hell or take us on that magical stairway to heaven.

Liberal supporters are crossing their fingers in the vain hope that Tony Abbott and his posse won’t screw up too badly, while Labor followers are still waiting to find out who’s going to be their fearless leader (a state of purgatory within purgatory? Purgatory-ception!).

As the results of our democratic decision come into fruition and this new chapter of our political history begins, I can’t help but reflect on an election where, for the first time in my short voting history, I’ve been at war over who to vote for.

Abbott v Rudd

It was Voldemort vs Joffrey Baratheon in this electoral race

I recently read an article that stated that there was nothing for young voters in the 2013 Australian election. It made some very valid points about how where some policies were targeted at winning the young votes, such as Labor’s stance on gay marriage and the national broadband network (NBN), when it came to the simplest of things (food, shelter, security) neither party took our needs into account.

We are the first generation where the majority of those in this bracket will still live in their parents home well into their 20s and we’re finding it harder to work out what career to study for and why. Not to mention the Labor Party decided to take $2.3 billion from university funding, opting to put it into primary school education as suggested by the Gonski Review.

In an age when we’re all so connected, the 2013 election not only left young voters uninterested and disengaged from the democratic process, but also disinclined to enrol to vote with over 17% or 400,000 voters aged 18-24 failing to register with the Australian Electoral Commission.

When it came to appealing to Gen Y voters, a large percentage of the voting demographic, why did our politicians choose style over substance in the election race?

Before you think I’m whinging too much about what we didn’t get (so typical of Gen Y…am I right?), let’s take a look at the few policies we were able to squeeze from our three main electoral party candidates.

Liberal has their Colombo Plan, which I had never heard of until recently. The short version of the policy – providing students with scholarships to study overseas in Asian countries and to bring those students to us. This policy was previously in place under the Menzies government.

Labor had planned to give us the Step Into Skills Package (did anyone else see the “Skillz pay the billz” poster? #hipsterwannabes); a program aimed “to give young people the basic skills they need to set a path to a decent and secure job”.

And the Greens, had they been elected, would have given Australia a youth Parliament. You know, for those as mad as the Mad Hatter to enter the ring in the circus that we like to call Question Time.

But apart from those listed above, there wasn’t much else when it came to policies targeted towards the younger voters. Instead, hardly a day went by in the five week electoral campaign where “all in good fun” style videos and photos were splashed across various social media platforms in a bid to win over the Gen Y vote. But while politicians were busy trying to become our best friends, the voices of the young were left unheard.

I shouldn’t be too hard on the lack of attainable goods that we never received; rather, I should focus on the positives.

Like the exuberant amount of all-too-personal, lemon sour-faced selfies Kevin Rudd provided us with on his Instagram account.

KRudd Instagram

Or this video of good ol’ Clive Palmer twerking it for the cameras of the Kylie and Jackie O Show.

Even those who never stood a chance like notorious head of Wikileaks/London’s Ecuadorian Embassy live-in tenant Julian Assange gave us a rap in this Youtube video.

And let’s not forget the endless laughter that ensued from this video of some of Australia’s best political campaign fails, courtesy of the Daily Show with John Oliver (nee Stewart) from the USA.

At the end of the day, there are many issues facing young Australians and while we’re known for being a generation that’s (supposedly) demanding and disillusioned about our future, is it really too much to ask for our voices to be heard and our basic needs to be met?

As much as I enjoyed the laughs and the vast attempts at trying to become my friend dear politicians, next time it will take more than just a well-utilised twitter and Instagram account or an array of hilarious videos to garner the interest and the vote of this Gen Y Australian.

Screenshot from here


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