Last week, Shalailah Medhora, a journalist for Triple J’s Hack program, discovered that most young Australians really aren’t that into politics. Like, at all. She was confused, and this is concerning, because she works on the current affairs program for the national youth broadcaster, and it’s kind of her job to know how to talk to them on a level they understand.
Clearly, Triple J isn’t up to the job, and so, shutupandreadthis is proud to present: Politics for Kidz.
Hey gang, let’s rap. Old man Turnbull is about to drop a deuce on the economy, because his upcoming Federal Budget (which is like, where he hands out all the skrillah) is going to throw hella shade at younger voters, all because he wants to slide into dem Baby Boomer DMs. I’m shook y’all.
Here’s the 411. Once upon a time, Malcolm was a popular option as preferred Prime Minister – but that was because of the waking nightmare we had with Tony Abbott. A raw onion eating, Queen’s husband knighting, Captain’s Call making d-bag who also happened to be the original Trump. Standing next to that, yeah, Malcolm Turnbull looks woke af. But he’s not.
Sure, Abbott had zero chill, but Malcolm Turnbull turned out to be the most basic of bitches. He sold out everything we were told he believed in, from marriage equality to the environment, his ability to resist the calamity of his predecessor was a myth that somehow he managed to perpetuate in most news sources, even as his popularity tanked. He has been abandoned by a generation learning what it means to have politicians lie to you.
So, he got this idea to focus on the only group who might swing him the votes he needs, the Baby Boomers, those aged around 60 and up. One way for him to secure this? Drip feeding details from his forthcoming budget to friendly media outlets, in the hope that they can give him a bump in the polls.
This most recent poll was particularly important for Turnbull, because he just lost his 30th Newspoll in a row, and 30 negative Newspolls was one of the reasons he gave when he rolled Abbott. Of course, when he was the only other option, he figured he would continue to slay, keeping his popularity numbers where he wanted them. He knows how to work a crowd, and even now, he seems like what a Prime Minister should be.
And so, as he has now met his own benchmark for failure, he’s desperate, and as Newspolls still partly rely on landline phones to get their figures, he knows that old people can deliver for him if they think he’s going to hand them even more of our futures.
So, let’s check the deets. Last week, the Herald Sun ran an article claiming Turnbull is planning to use the upcoming Federal Budget to swing some massive favours to Baby Boomers. There are plans to introduce new tax laws and rules for superannuation, and a special taskforce on ageing, all to give certainty to older voters planning their retirements.
I know, this sounds boring, and sure, your gran probably deserves some help with her retirement, but this plan will be at the expense of actions that would assist younger voters. They weren’t even subtle about their motives for this policy direction, focusing on Turnbull’s polling numbers in the second half of the article.
For decades, Baby Boomers have been handed everything they want by successive governments because the understanding was that they are the biggest voting group in the country. They got free university, and then forced us to pay tens of thousands for a degree, and in the last few years, they’ve been going out of their way to force millennials into debt to even consider getting a job, or living within an hour of said job. It’s straight up bullshit.
We’re getting screwed, and the thing is, politicians know that they can continue to get away with it, because most millennials aren’t all that politically engaged. In successive polls, we’ve delivered the highest approval figures to BOTH Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten. The disapproval numbers look like a sliding scale of political engagement.
In some ways, they might argue that we’re bringing it on ourselves, but the thing is, at the most basic level, what millennials want tends to be less than what Baby Boomers were handed on a silver platter. Yet, we see countless articles, morning TV spots and status updates decrying millennials for their wasteful behaviour, choosing avocado toast and cold drip lattes over saving for a house. Don’t get me wrong, I am here for my smashed avo and single-o espresso, but no one is seriously pretending that’s why we can’t buy houses; and as long as we’re being dismissed with that garbage, our arguments for equity and fair policy are being undermined.
Now, it’s time for MATHS FOR MILLENNIALS!!!
4.8 million Australian voters are over the age of 60. This actually makes them the smallest voting demographic in the country. There are, as of December 2017, 16.1 million registered voters in Australia; 5.7 million voters are under the age of 40, and 5.5 million are between 40 and 60. As it stands, not only are Millennial (plus a handful of tail-end Gen X and early iGen) voters the largest voting demographic in the country, they’re also the most ignored and abused.
We have the power to change governments, if only we cared enough. Youth movements in England and the US came within a bees dick of winning an election, simply by organising behind a well-spoken leader with progressive credentials stretching back decades. In Australia, we had Bill Shorten thrust on us in the hope that he could be rewarded for knifing two former Prime Ministers. So, y’know, we have, uhhh… options.
Here’s the deal, fam. Baby Boomers enjoy 80% home ownership in a market with plummeting rates of home ownership for anyone under 45, and they’re committed to protecting their assets at the expense of future generations; they rejected countless opportunities to expand the scope of Medicare over the years; they continually prevent attempts to reset Centrelink as a social safety net – attacking people forced to rely on Centrelink payments as “entitled bludgers“; and 9 different types of old man boner pills are subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), while only 1 brand of contraceptive pill has been added to the PBS in the last 20 years, despite the medical advances in that time. Even when we come close to being delivered future-focused infrastructure, like the NBN, it’s trashed by Boomers the first chance they get.
They have been called the most selfish generation in history for a reason.
This last week saw a newspaper clipping go viral for the fact that it suggested that there was another way to look at the economy and how federal money is spent. Greens leader, Richard Di Natale was excoriated for pointing out that there needs to be a system in place that can accommodate the approx. 25% of the workforce that will be facing unemployment from the rise of automation in the next decade. These are our jobs, in Australia, the number of jobs replaced by advancing technology could be as high as 40%. This is something that politicians have been increasingly aware of for years, and instead of taking a revolutionary view of the economy, they’re sticking with business as usual, because that’s what gets the Boomer votes.
Whether it was affordable housing, a serious approach to pollution and climate change, free university, infrastructure that was designed to address future needs, or full-time employment (and failing that, a social safety net that isn’t going to trap younger people in a cycle of poverty); the “demands” of disaffected young people have been based on what was handed to older Australians.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen policies stagnate in this country. Anything that was once considered mainstream, accepting the need to brace for the future is now seen as the domain of extremist progressives.
Politicians have failed Millennials and younger voters, our dissatisfaction with political parties is at an all time high, and yet, they continue to ignore us. We can be the change that is needed. If we engage. Low-key outrage isn’t going to cut it. We have to be savage.
The power is yours.