BUNDY TEENS REVEAL WHY THEY PREFER AMERICAN POLITICS
“THE most I know about Malcolm Turnbull is that he is our president ... I mean prime minster,” one student said.
With the next state election nearing, the NewsMail sat down with a group of Bundy students to talk about how they viewed politics and, while some have an interest in the political system, they all said they know more about what is happening in America than Australia – because it’s boring.
In a world where information is at our fingertips and memes are a form of communication, politics isn’t a priority for millennials – but it’s not because they don’t care, it’s because it’s not interesting.
While they know the important role they play in Australia as a voter and want to better the future, the way politics is presented isn’t engaging to majority of today’s youth.
Shalom College student Benjamin Gardner-Smith is one of the few who watches some political-related programs, and said more live debates would make politics interesting as the rehearsal element was limited that made it more entertaining.
“I think politics is interesting because of the debate side of things,” he said.
St Luke’s Anglican School student Zack Phillips said the talk show coverage in America, like what Stephen Colbert does, is what makes the political issues in the US understandable content and fun to listen to.
Katherine Stevens said you can’t escape politics online but she would still rather watch a movie than a political debate.
Shalom College principal Dan McMahon said “sadly” there wasn’t an interest in politics among the student body.
“I don’t think young people, generally, follow the news either domestic or international,” he said.
“Some exceptions to this of course but generally, I get the impression that how the political system works is not a high priority for youth.
“The political/legal system would be studied in subjects like legal studies, schools used to have a subject called ‘citizenship education’” but sadly, it has been squeezed out of curriculum offerings by the emphasis on literacy
Student Cameron Darcy said he believed it was important for everyone to have a basic understanding of politics but “it’s hard to keep up”.
He said politics needed to be broken down, but not to the point where it was no longer serious.
While television, radio and the tangible newspaper used to be the only way to keep-up-to date with what’s going on, student Dalnette Kuyler said she got all her information through outlets like Facebook.
“Teenagers nowadays probably watch television a lot less,” Allen Preshy said.
“Because we just get it on our phones, I have a news app and the breaking news comes through or we are on our laptops.
“YouTube as well, I watch the trending videos.”
Despite immediacy of news, lunchtime discussions aren’t commonly based on news and politics, the students said.
A general lack of enthusiasm surrounding the culture of politics has some young adults following whoever their parents voted for.
Mr McMahon said he worried that students were not informing themselves about important issues and instead simply relying on what they are told by Facebook, their friends or parents.
He said he would “love” it if students were educated on the political system and parties in an objective manner before graduating.
“Our graduates will be voting in the next federal election.
“I think that the vote should only be given to people who are able to pass a test about the political system so that we could be more sure that the voting population is more engaged with the issues that are important.”
Mr McMahon said some issues that may be of significance to today’s youth, highlighted by students, included: equality, support for vulnerable people, housing, healthy futures, education and unemployment.
Despite the countless generalisations made about millennials, there is a group of young adults who want to be politically active and they are involved in the Youth Parliament.
For anyone looking to find out more information about what affects them, visit the Parliament House website www.aph.gov.au, which highlights political aspects such as legislation that is being debated, or legislation that has already been brought in, along with how parliament works.
You can also contact your state MP, Leanne Donaldson in Bundaberg and Stephen Bennett in Burnett.