Candidates fail to connect with voters under 40

Dr Katherine Hunt, Griffith Business School, says an opportunity to connect with the Millennial generation has been missed in the ‘budget/election’.
Dr Katherine Hunt, Griffith Business School, says an opportunity to connect with the Millennial generation has been missed in the ‘budget/election’.

Voters under the age of 40 feel disengaged from the election campaign and without candidates who share their values.

This is the argument of Griffith Business School researcher, Dr Katherine Hunt, who says the government missed an opportunity to capture the under-40s vote with the Federal Budget four nights before the election was called.

“The budget failed this group in many ways,” Dr Hunt said. “And now the budget/election — they are more or less the same thing – is not delivering anything of interest or benefit to young people.”

Dr Hunt singled out superannuation, housing affordability and jobseeker incentives as key issues where Treasurer Scott Morrison came up short in the budget.

“As a result there is less incentive for people under 40 to invest in super. There are less tax breaks; investing is now more complicated; and there is more risk of invested money being affected by future retrospective budgets,” she said.

“With super less attractive to people under 40, housing affordability is also diminished for them. Wealthy Aussies will invest more in property, inflating prices even further and putting young people on a path that does not lead to home ownership.”


On the subject of employment, Dr Hunt is also critical of the budget initiative to place jobseekers under the age of 25 in internships, working for up to 25 hours a week, earning an extra $200 per fortnight on top of their welfare payments.

“How demoralising is this message? The government is effectively saying to this group ‘No, you can’t get a job; but yes, you’re worth $4-per-hour on top of your welfare payment. That’s what you’re worth’. It’s easy to see how this can create a disconnect and diminished self-worth among youth who want to be active members of our society.

“It’s 2016 and young people want more from life than just the economy. They want ethical investing, social business, and community-minded educational institutions.”

Missed opportunity

Dr Hunt also argues that a major opportunity to connect with and address some of the needs of the Millennial generation has been missed in the ‘budget/election’.

“These people are the future. Innovation and growth don’t happen when a whole generation is undereducated, disenfranchised, and in rental accommodation.

“These people want to be engaged in everything, from their cereal box to their job advancement. Yet they are being left behind in two key political senses – actual benefits from political decision-making and policy; and the dearth of candidates who speak to their values. Millions of under-40s are just searching for someone to vote for.”

Dr Hunt pointed to US Presidential Campaign and the impact of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders on the same demographic. “He has energised and mobilised an entire generation. If they had compulsory voting, he would probably win. But they don’t, and it’s hard to get people to vote in the USA, even when they believe in something.

“We have no candidate who has said anything remotely inspiring, visionary, or interesting to young people.”