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

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