Boomers and doom stalking the Liberals
Moana and Monique Kidd think and vote so differently it sometimes surprises that they are mother and daughter.
That’s how it goes with baby boomers and millennials — chalk when it comes to how Malcolm Turnbull is running the country, cheese on same-sex marriage, and somewhere in between on just about any other issue.
The challenge for their MP Peter Dutton, a rising star in the government as Immigration and Border Protection Minister, is to bridge the generational gulf among voters in his marginal Brisbane seat of Dickson.
There, millennials, who came of age this century, have overtaken boomers, who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s — 28 per cent to 25 per cent — heralding a change of guard that will shake up politics in Australia.
Mr Dutton, 46, has had to fight tooth and nail to hold his outer suburban seat since getting into parliament in 2001 and the next election promises to be more of the same, given his margin is just 1.6 per cent. Talk of his leadership prospects presupposes his return in Dickson, and to achieve this he must click with under-35s while maintaining support among over55s as well as the in-betweeners of Gen X, who make up 47 per cent of the electorate. Talk about walking a fine line. Moana Kidd voted Liberal at the last federal election but said the government needed to work harder to keep her support. “I am not particularly happy with what’s been going on,” she said yesterday, catching up at the Warner Coffee Club with her barista daughter. Childcare tops her list of concerns, a function of the time she spends looking after grandkids.
Monique Kidd, 28, said housing affordability was her priority. With four children — ranging from Bronx, 10, to Izzy, 3 — she and partner Waimana are trying to save for a house deposit while meeting the costs of a young family. “It’s tough,” she explained. “I work to get the money to do things with the kids at the weekend, but by the time I pay childcare there’s not that much left over.”
Moana is in two minds about same-sex marriage: she supports equal rights but is not sure “I want this stuff in the classroom because it could confuse the hell of children”. Monique has no doubt at all. “I will be voting yes,” she said. “No question.”
The young woman said she was not committed to any political party and her vote changed from election to election. “I go with whoever is offering me the better deal,” she laughed.
“You could say Mum is oldschool while I’m more new-age.”
Registered nurse Gwenda Weatherford, 60, of Eatons Hill, and her 30-year-old daughter-inlaw Rebeccah said Mr Dutton would be advised to be more visible in the electorate. “He used to spend a lot of time in the schools … but from what I hear he’s so busy that you are lucky to get 10 minutes from him,” said Rebeccah, a local teacher.
Both women are committed Christians who have reservations about same-sex marriage. Gwenda voted for Mr Dutton at the last federal election and is inclined to back him again — “he’s a man of integrity” — while Rebeccah is not so sure. “I think it depends on who runs against him,” she said.
In the Adelaide-based seat of Hindmarsh, regained for Labor by Steve Georganas last year, lifelong Liberal supporter Rosslyn Dixon, 61, said the conservatives could no longer count on her.
At last year’s election, she found herself questioning whether to back the Coalition and for the first time plumped for another party in the Senate. “I didn’t like a lot of the Coalition’s policies and just thought maybe I’d vote for someone in the upper house who had some of the values we required,” she said.
Hindmarsh voter Rosslyn Dixon is a dissatisfied boomer