In the last week before the electoral roll closed in April, over 80,000 young Australians enrolled to vote. This was the biggest week the Australian Electoral Commission had ever recorded in its engagement of young voters. Change is coming and young people are at its centre. Unfortunately though, it seems that there is obviously a clear fear amongst the major parties of talking publicly to young Australians. There is perhaps no bigger example than the Daily Aus having difficulty locking in the two major parties for a debate despite having a reach of over 1 million readers a month on social media.
The real question is: but why are major parties scared of young people - especially women? Why aren’t they eager to find out who young women are planning to vote for, the reasons for their voting preferences and what the major issues are for them going into the election?
Maybe they’re scared. Of our anger. Our drive. Our ambition. Our power.
It’s been said that this election could see a ‘youthquake’ that could shake the ballot-box and have a tangible impact on the election result. The Coalition itself has already had some difficulties – particularly its infamous ‘women problem.’ Who could forget when women around Australia turned out in full force to support Brittany Higgins and were told they were lucky not to have been met with bullets? The Guardian Essential Report found a gender split in attitudes towards Scott Morrison – with women at a net 13 point disapproval.
Last week, Missing Perspectives released a survey asking young women aged 18-35 three key questions: who they were planning to vote for, why they were planning to vote for that party, and what the most important issue is for them going into the election. We are not pretending that this is in any way an academic survey – just a mere Google Forms survey shared with our readers – but we were blown away by the volume and content of responses we received.
Approximately 69% of the Missing Perspectives survey respondents were aged 25-35 while around 31% were aged 18-25. The Greens were the dominating party that respondents were planning to vote for – at 50.3%, with 34.7% indicating that they were planning to vote for the Australian Labor Party. The rest of the respondents were split between the National Party, Independents, and the Liberal Party of Australia.
Respondents voting for the Liberal Party noted that they were doing so for a variety of reasons. One respondent noted that the Liberal Party had invested ‘and are aiming to invest more, in mental health support.’ Others pointed to a strong economic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 as a key factor in why they were voting Liberal. A respondent voting for the National Party indicated that they were voting that way because they were the ‘only party/member with a presence in my electorate.’
Respondents voting for the Independent candidates in their electorate provided an array of reasons, ranging from the only party taking ‘real action on climate, equality and transparency’ - to having no ALP candidate in the electorate. Several respondents pointed to a disillusionment with internal party politics and the major parties. One noted ‘the major parties have let us down and independents can keep them accountable.’
Those voting for Labor pointed to how desperately action is needed on aged care, healthcare and the NDIS as the reason they were voting red. Many also highlighted problems with the Liberal Party’s treatment of women, approach to foreign aid, and lack of integrity. One respondent noted ‘Given the LNP's current history with corruption, pork-barreling, how they view and treat women, and a multitude of other examples that demonstrate a consistent lack of empathy or concern for anyone but themselves, I am resolved that any other party would be better in power.’
Respondents voting for the Greens emphasized their strong policies on climate, reconciliation and rights for First Nations people. There was some disillusionment with the direction of the ALP, with several pointing out they felt that the ALP is not doing enough on climate change. One noted that they were voting Greens because “my traditional party, ALP, has become such a pathetic excuse for a progressive party and I cannot in good conscience vote for them anymore.”
Across all survey responses, climate change was one of the dominant issues for young women going into this election. Other issues included the protection of trans rights, addressing corruption, sexual harassment and the cost of living.
So what next? If the nearly 200 responses we received are anything to go by, young women are more mobilised than ever. We know the power of our vote and we intend to use it as well as our right to fiercely hold people in power accountable. We’ve inherited a country stuck at so many crossroads and we’ll be damned if we’re not going to get things moving in a better direction
Missing Perspective’s unique political coverage is only just getting started. We will be interviewing candidates in the federal election this week: starting off with the independents Allegra Spender, Zoe Daniel and Kylea Tink.
We’ll be putting questions to them directly from young women and act as the conduit – so we can make sure that candidates respond to this critical group of voters. Young women are demanding to be heard in this election, and we are keen to play a role in holding candidates to account and giving young women the microphone.
We’ve built the platform so all you have to do is let us amplify your voice.