Clara Williams Roldan has no political experience. But she’s about to face off against the NSW premier Mike Baird in the upcoming New South Wales’ state elections.
I am a final year university student with no experience in politics. And, I am about to enter a race I know I can’t win. I’m standing against the Premier Mike Baird in my local area electorate of Manly in the upcoming NSW state elections. However, I think it is important to run, and to run hard.
I’m standing because I believe my generation needs to take responsibility for our own future. How many times have you heard young people referred to as ‘the future of Australia’? That’s obvious just in terms of demographics. But, if everyone is talking about us, why is it that there are so few young faces and opinions in the conversation about Australia’s political life?
That’s something I’d like to know, because I only need to glance at my phone to find out what virtually every one of my friends has had for lunch. Yet, I honestly don’t know how many of them would vote. In this age of over sharing, such political silence is deafening.
I suspect there are two interconnected reasons. First, there’s the Peter Pan ‘I’ll be young forever so why worry now’ syndrome. You just have to look the careless manner in which we manage our superannuation. We can’t even imagine getting old, so why save for this inconceivable future. I only found out which Super fund I was with last week (though I admit this may just be me). To some extent, young people have always eschewed politics in favour of virtually anything else on offer.
Secondly, the political conversation never seems to hit a nerve with my generation. I mean, who are all these people with mortgages and steady jobs, luxuriating in their worries about interest rates and 9-5 commuting challenges? I have had so many lousy casual jobs and worked so many unpaid internships – and I studied really, really hard and got the right ATAR – but I can’t even imagine finding anything resembling a reasonable job. Instead, I’ll likely work very long or irregular hours in an insecure position; sunning myself in the glow of my laptop screen. And home ownership? As a student I’ve paid $280 week for a dark, tiny room in an unrenovated house and, given the fierce competition for leases, I was considered lucky to even get that.
Which immediately comes back to my first point. Everything is, in fact, not alright if you are young. Unemployment for 15-24 year olds is more than double the all-age average. If we use the Intergeneration Report’s approach of extrapolating out from today, things aren’t looking too rosy in the future either, unless we come up with some brighter ideas.