Australia's politicians should live by my school's motto: 'not for ourselves alone'
Opinion Australian politics A Gen Z view of Australian politics: underhand, selfish â" and too political Grace Lagan
As a Year 11 student, Iâm politically engaged, as are so many young people. But a lot have given up on politicians
As the Australian parliament returns this week wi th a new prime minister, the first item on the agenda seems to be scrapping the national energy guarantee (Neg), the policy that both sides of government, the chief scientist and countless lobbyists and bureaucrats had agreed to in principle.
In the eyes of Gen Z and Millennials, government in modern Australia has become less about solutions, compromise and consultation and more about underhand motives and Machiavellian instincts. Plenty of us are engaged in the issues but itâs hard to place trust in politicians who show us time and again that short-term plays constantly beat out long-term concerns of the nation and the planet.Peter Dutton denies 'personal contact' with former police colleague in au pair saga â" politics live Read more
Political ambition and personal ideology are overriding actual law-making, which is why I ask: why is politics so political?
My two closest friends at school and I spend lunchtimes debating the merits and flaws of policy and political ideologies. One of them is a Young Liberal (sheâs on the panel of Q&A tonight), and I am a Young Labor member, so we have some pretty robust arguments.
We look at our elected officials and see many living by a motto that seems to be 'only for ourselves at any cost'.
Weâre considered top-tier political nerds but we have no more or less political conviction than thousands of young people who care about all sorts of issues: climate change, the flaws of the free market, poverty, jobs and global politics. Itâs just that my friends and I are clinging to the belief that politics can be a path to positive change, where many of our peers have given up. And in many ways, I donât blame them.
My schoolâs motto is ânot for ourselves aloneâ, and we are encouraged to live by it. We look at our elected officials and see many living by a motto that seems to be âonly for ourselves at a ny costâ.
We are taught to be respectful and tolerant, yet Fraser Anning can stand up in our parliament and vilify Muslims using terms derived from Nazis and his fellow senators shake his hand afterwards.
We are told compassion is the most important virtue, yet offshore processing centres for refugees remain, incarcerating innocent children who harm themselves in despair.
We are told to be honest but when politicians give false information it mostly goes without reprimand and is regarded as a natural part of the political process.
Weâre told not to be hypocritical. But Barnaby Joyce â" who warned that giving young women an HPV vaccine would make them sexually promiscuous, and voted against government funding â" was married with four daughters when he fathered a child in an affair with a staffer.
Weâre urged to collaborate, yet the pursuit of common goals through compromise has been tossed aside in favour of toxic partisanship on policy issu es, even when common ground is found.We're in a post-truth world with eroding trust and accountability. It can't end well | Nick Enfield Read more
And weâre told to work hard and face challenges head on. In last monthâs leadership fight, our elected and well-paid federal MPs voted to walk off the job while the rest of Australia got on with their work, because it looked like Question Time would be a bit hard.
The notion that young people are dumb and disinterested in the issues facing our nation is rubbish. We want to get to work solving them. The question that our politicians must ask themselves is: how do you get us back? Weâre not talking about a revolution. All weâre asking for is competency, integrity and transparency in politics.
Our generation is ready to take on the problems of tomorrow: across the world young activists are there. Theyâre leading March for Our Lives, backing up #MeToo, sitting in for democracy in Hong Kong, marching in Pride parades, protesting over the treatment of refugees and the lack of climate action. Weâre tomorrowâs change-makers, and we ask todayâs politicians to give us a reason to believe they deserve the faith their country puts in them when we elect them to office.
Grace Lagan is a Year 11 student and a member of Young Labor
- Australian politics
- Young people
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