The most surprising demographic swing to the Coalition in the last election were “Voters aged 25-34 years living in outer-urban and regional areas”.
These are areas of high youth unemployment. Were they swayed by the constant refrain of “we have created over 1 million jobs”?
In August 2013, there were 712,400 people unemployed. The labour force underutilisation was 13.5%.
In October 2019, there were 722,400 people unemployed and the underutilisation rate was 13.8%.
More people unemployed, more people underemployed.
These young people would probably also have voted in the 2013 election. Have they forgotten the first Coalition budget?
“People under the age of 30 will now have to wait six months before receiving any income support through Newstart or Youth Allowance. After six months of support, if they have not found a job, their payments will be cut off for another six months. In addition, the eligibility age for Newstart will rise from 22 to 24 years for new applicants. Young people in this age bracket must access Youth Allowance instead; a loss of around $48 per week.”
Apparently, it was assumed that unemployed people under 30 would be supported by their parents.
The ultimatum was ‘learn or earn’. Perhaps they should have gone for ‘learn, earn, or starve’.
As pointed out by the Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), the state peak body for young people and the youth sector:
“There is no evidence that these harsh measures will increase the number of jobs available, or help young people to find a job and keep it. This same budget has removed the funding to Youth Connections, which provides career counselling and support to early school leavers, helping over six thousand young people a year in Victoria alone. The budget has also ceased funding to the Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), which provide partnership brokerage between schools, vocational providers, businesses and young people, to support youth employment at a local community level. How can the federal government claim to be encouraging young people into the workforce when they are removing the very supports that helped this to happen?”
Thankfully, Labor and the crossbench in the Senate saved young people from the worst of this Coalition legislation, but they were unsuccessful in stopping them from stripping penalty rates from weekend work, mainly cutting young people’s wages.
Were young people swayed by the idea that the Coalition will produce a surplus to “pay down Labor’s debt”?
When Labor left government, the net debt was about $161 billion due to their stimulus investment to save us from the worst repercussions of the global financial crisis.
Net debt at the end of September 2019 was almost $402 billion.
So if we are considering whose debt it is, Labor $161 billion during a crisis, the Coalition another $241 billion during a period of global financial recovery.
When it came to Labor’s proposed tax reforms on property tax concessions, why would any young person vote against them?
Perhaps the answer lies in them not understanding that those tax concessions have skewed investment away from more productive enterprises that may have boosted employment towards investors monopolising the property market, freezing out first home buyers and acting to keep rents high.
Why would young people vote for the party that has decimated vocational education and cut the government contribution towards tertiary education?
The Coalition wanted to deregulate university fees, allowing them to charge whatever they pleased. They were successful in reducing the minimum wage at which HECS or HELP debt repayments were taken from young people’s wages.
The Coalition government have overseen huge increases in private health insurance premiums, causing the young people who prop up the system to leave in droves and then face ever-lengthening hospital waiting lists. Having sold off Medibank Private for a short-term budgetary sugar hit, the government gave away competitive control of prices.
They got rid of the mining super-profits tax, which led them to axe the schoolkids bonus that helped young families and to freeze the proposed increase in the superannuation guarantee and proposed increase in the tax-free threshold – changes that had both immediate and long term detrimental consequences for young people.
They removed carbon-pricing, leading to increased emissions that are having catastrophic repercussions whilst power prices continue to soar. Instead of collecting billions from polluters, incentivising them towards adopting better practice, we now pay billions to people who promise they won’t clear a bush paddock, or will reduce a herd during a drought.
If we want to talk about inflicting a burden on the next generation, the consequences of our inaction on reducing emissions, and the cost of doing what we must to survive, increases every year.
The only reason that young people would vote for a government who is focused on increasing the wealth of old people is because Labor, the media, and we older people, have either failed to inform them of the truth or failed to make them interested enough to listen.
I often hear criticism of the education sector for this. Can you understand how utterly defeating it is for them to spend several years evaluating tens of thousands of submissions from experts and stakeholders in order to devise a national curriculum, only to have a couple of guys, paid by the Coalition for a few months, to tell us we need to get rid of that sustainability crap and focus on our Judeo-Christian heritage, west is best, propaganda. More standardised testing, back to basics, bring back the cane, they advise, in direct contrast to educational research on the importance of individual improvement goals and executive function skills development..
Our children are either disengaged or embroiled in the extremes that preclude listening, negotiation, or consensus.
That is our fault, and I have no faith that we can fix it as we seek to apportion blame to the media, or the schools, or the politicians, or the parents.
But our kids can.
Since we adults have lost their trust, with good reason, the kids have to be the ones to bring some sense back.
We must help them to do that in whatever way we can, but they must decide the direction as we offer guidance.
They know how to communicate with each other. The future is theirs. It’s time for them to make their voices heard.
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