YOUNG people do care about politics.
Sapphire Coast Anglican College Year 12 students Chloe Forrest, SaintJohn Coates and Rachael Ireland are engaged in federal election fever.
SaintJohn and Chloe, both 18, will vote for the first time tomorrow, while Rachael, 17, will have to wait for her turn.
The trio sat down with the BDN on Wednesday to discuss how they’ll vote, what issues are important to them and the public perception that Australia’s youth aren’t concerned about politics.
“I feel like we’re a bit misrepresented,” SaintJohn said.
“Some youth may not care, but if you don’t take interest now, you don’t care about the future.
“With what’s important, you might miss out.”
SaintJohn is excited about the opportunity to vote, adding the voting process has been “quite well explained”.
He wouldn’t reveal which party he will support tomorrow, but SaintJohn said “I sort of know”.
“Whether it’s the right decision though, we’ll see,” he said with a laugh.
Conversely, Chloe still remains unsure about which party she will be voting for.
“Both [major] parties are doing a little bit of the same thing,” she said.
Rachael misses out on the opportunity to vote in the 2013 federal election because she turns 18 in January.
She said is excited about the chance to have her say.
“I’m looking forward to voting, so I’m disappointed to miss out,” Rachael said.
“It’s a small voice, but I will still have my say.”
When asked about what issues affect Australia’s youth, SaintJohn, Chloe and Rachael brainstormed a broad range of topics.
Heading the list was education, housing, economic and environmental sustainability, and humanitarian issues.
SaintJohn said, following the global economic crisis, now was more important than ever for Australia.
“It’s our future,” he said.
“It’s important that coming out of the financial crisis, they have to make sure the economy doesn’t go to the dogs.
“At the moment, everything seems really uncertain – everyone has panicked about the deficit in the budget.
“The government has come out of it pretty well, compared to other major economies, by spending.”
The most important aspect for Chloe is education, including attending university.
Chloe said uncertainty remained about the investment in Australia’s education system and rent rates needed to be lower.
“There’s a lot of debate about the resources we have when leaving school,” she said.
“We also want to see cheaper rent for people moving out.
“A lot more people are having gap years because they don’t have the money to move away.
“This means we are becoming professionals later – there is a delay in the workforce.”
SaintJohn agreed with Chloe, adding there needed to be more financial support for young people.
“The money has increased for retired people, the government didn’t focus on the younger generation,” he said.
“We have a bigger impact on how the economy performs and they aren’t doing enough to get us off our feet.”
Meanwhile, Rachael is concerned about humanitarian issues, including the much-discussed future of asylum seekers.
“At the moment, there is no answer, but it’s something to think about,” she said.
Rachael said she was also disappointed about both major parties spending too much money on advertising during the lead-up to the election.
“It’s so negative,” she said.
“They should be working towards good, not attacking each other’s faults.
“It should be about helping keep Australia safe and the economy safe.”
The candidates for Eden-Monaro are Labor’s sitting member Mike Kelly, Liberal Peter Hendy, Catherine Moore from the Greens, Dean Lynch of the Palmer United Party, Martin Tye from the Stable Population Party, Citizens Electoral Council representative Costas Goumas, Warren Catton of the Australian Christian Democrats and Independent Andrew Thaler.
The three SCAC students were surprised there were eight candidates, saying they only knew Dr Kelly and Mr Hendy because “I’ve seen signs for them everywhere”.
Rachael said she hoped each candidate would focus on “what’s big for the local community”.
Looking ahead, Rachael said she wasn’t sure which party she will support.
“My values don’t match with any party – I can’t tick every box with one party.”