Finding out what Geelong’s youth want to ask their politicians

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This piece was produced by Thom Devereux and Tegan Rohan.

With the 2019 Federal Election just around the corner, we took to the streets of Geelong to find out what young people wanted to ask the candidates running for the seat of Corangamite. 

We curated the following responses to the three questions asked, as well as our own question: How do we get young adults more interested in politics?

What are you going to do to tackle youth issues: youth violence, youth homelessness, youth health?

Youth homelessness is a national issue. The National Youth Homelessness Conference in Melbourne revealed that about 40,000 people under the age of 25 are currently homeless.

In March 2018, Corangamite’s sitting member Sarah Henderson announced that MacKillop Family Services, in partnership with Barwon, Child, Youth and Family, would receive more than $1 million from the Liberal government over five years to support youth facing the risk of homelessness. A re-elected Liberal government would ensure this initiative continues.

The final plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 includes a $60 million grant for organizations that are helping those escaping domestic and family violence by providing emergency accommodation. This will allow for the construction of up to 450 safe places, aiding up to 6500 people per year.

Comparatively, Labor candidate Libby Coker has pledged an $8 million package to be given to Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets program. This will specifically help youth migrants in Melbourne.

The Labor Party has also addressed family violence. It plans to establish an $88 million Safe Housing Fund that will help to supply emergency lodging for women and child that are at risk of homelessness. This program will also aid young people leaving home care.

Finally, Labor has promised to develop a Head Space center in Ocean Grove. Head Space is an organization that “acts as a one-stop-shop for young people who need help with mental health, physical health (including sexual health), alcohol and other drugs or work and study support”.

What are you going to do to combat climate change?

The Liberal Government has announced a $3.5 billion Climate Solutions package. This will be implemented to ensure Australia succeeds with its 2030 Climate Change target. “We will meet our target to reduce Australia’s emissions by 26 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. There is a clear plan in place to achieve this”, Henderson announced in February. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said: “Unlike Labor’s plan, our policies mean we can reduce emissions while growing our economy and keeping electricity prices lower”.

Two million dollars of this package will be provided to reduce greenhouse gases through the existing Emissions Reduction Fund, allow for investments into a high tech expansion of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and a second interconnector Marinus Link to deliver more affordable, reliable power to the National Electricity Market, among other commitments.

Despite this, Coker has stated that “only Labor has a plan to deliver cleaner, cheaper energy, and ensure we reach 50 per cent renewable by 2030″. The Labor Party has committed a $10 million grant, similar to a research grant, to the CSIRO to increase its capabilities, which in turn will allow for the development of an Australian Climate Science Capability Plan.

Another investment of $290 million is planned to cut waste output and its handling by introducing a national ban on certain plastic products (including single-use plastic bags), and creating a broader Recycling and Waste strategy.

Further planned investments include focusing on renewable energy and batteries, with the plan of cutting power bills while growing jobs, and creating transport and infrastructure that will contribute far less to climate change. A key benchmark that Labor has promised is to have 50 per cent of vehicles electric by 2030.

What is planned to be done about animal activists going illegally onto farms?

Henderson has said a re-elected Morrison Government would introduce new legislation to make it an offence to use a carriage service to disclose personal information that could encourage trespassing on agricultural land that could cause commercial harm.

This includes the website Aussie Farms, which would become illegal and be punishable by up to months’ imprisonment for revealing agricultural addresses and causing trespassing offences by activists.

“Australians rely on our Corangamite farmers and the agricultural industry every day and they should not be subjected to the illegal invasion of their property and their privacy,”  Henderson said.

Coker has more of a focus on farming productivity and sustainability as a business.

In a visit to the Marcus Hill farm with Bill Shorten on March 3, Coker and Shorten said in a joint statement that Labor would “stand up to the big banks and fight for overdue compensation and justice for farmers”.

Labor plans to implement the Farm Productivity and Sustainable Profitability Program which focuses on helping farmers that cannot achieve profit during drought by lifting productivity and sustainable profitability across all farm businesses.

However, there is little to no mention of a response to animal activists and trespassing laws.

How do we get young adults more interested in politics?

According to the ABC, Australian 18-to-24-year-olds have the lowest voter enrolment rate of all age groups and almost one third of the age group said they wouldn’t have voted at the last election if it wasn’t compulsory.

But the Australian Election Study found 22 per cent of that age group indicated they shared unofficial political content online during 2016.

This suggests that young adults are interested in the issues of political debate, but are not interested in the what politicians have to say about them and don’t connect the two.

This leads back to the voting issue and being disengaged with politics.

Some ways young people can become more involved with the election is by taking online quizzes to find out their electoral preferences.

The ABC has a Voting Compass, and I Side With… has its 2019 Political Quiz which give questions on issues which help show what political parties the individual may lean towards and why.

Online resources from the state and federal Electoral Commissions can also provide information for a more in-depth look at Australia’s politics and the impact of voting, as the media frenzy near election dates can be overwhelming.

The Australian Electoral Commission has a funding, disclosure and political parties section that reveals financial disclosure, parties’ transparency, election funding, political party registration and compliance reviews and investigations for people to read for themselves.

Politics may be a dry topic for some, but it covers issues that can directly affect people and their lives, which is why it’s important to make every vote count.

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THOM DEVEREUX
Third year Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) at Deakin University. Mainly focused on music and entertainment news, but interests include anything from sport to politics.

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