“Politicians are stupid so why would I vote for them?” This is the view of Martha (not her real name), a 22-year-old Williamstown resident. “Anyway, I’m not even registered to vote, so I can’t vote.”
Martha is hardworking with a Monday to Friday full-time job, working two weekend shifts in a Williamstown café and usually a late-night shift at a city club. She needs the money to pay the bills but would prefer to have a life outside work if she could. Martha complains about her colleagues with more experience producing lesser outcomes but being paid more because of their age and thinks we should get paid on outcomes not age.
When challenged about not registering to vote, Martha talks about the lack of civics education at school, saying, “If they taught me life skills, including understanding the political system then she may have paid more attention to what goes on in the government.”
“Politicians usually make promises and never keep them, so I guess they don’t care, so why should I?”
Martha explained her news feeds provide her information about what’s going on in the world but stays away from the dross of television news as she doesn’t trust what they say about the issues. Her major concern is animal welfare and although she likes a burger she believes more can be done to ensure animals are well cared for within the food chain.
Her second issue is health and would like to see more money invested in hospitals but didn’t know this was a state government responsibility.
Martha’s other concern is the wages to international students and foreign travellers allowed to work in Australia and believes they should be paid the same as everyone else as it seems they are under paid.
When asked about climate change she couldn’t provide a view but recognises it is an important issue and learns about it from advertisements and social media.
Martha was asked what would need to change for her to register and vote, she considered the question then said, “If policies directly impact me then maybe I would want to register and vote for a party. I respect the right to vote is a freedom I enjoy, but nothing politicians have done encourages me to want to vote for them.”
Martha’s comments are extremely insightful. They indicate that we as a society may not be doing enough to help our community understand our political system. We may not be adequately explaining why government do certain things and perhaps many are blind to the reality of governing our country. She suggests this education can start at school; but, we also have a responsibility to be conscious of what happens around us and ensure we are voting for the right reasons.
It’s true many folks vote as they always have at every election, ignoring policies and voting for the party they believe best represents their world view. And this is attitude to follow a certain political brand is sometimes handed down through families.
Winston Churchill supposedly once observed that anyone who was not a liberal at 20 years of age had no heart, while anyone who was still a liberal at 40 had no head. If there’s any truth to the observation, one wonders what to make of today’s politics.
Are there any 60-year-old liberals still out there, if so tell us why.
Street Talk will discuss the federal election with voters during the campaign to identify their concerns for the community and if what they learn during the campaign has changed their view.