Chal­lenge of the young

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - PAUL TOOHEY SUN­DAY MAY 19 2019

POL­I­TICS has al­ways been about gain­ing and hold­ing on to power. But how that is achieved is now sub­ject to tec­tonic shift and ma­jor par­ties, par­tic­u­larly on the right, are fac­ing an enor­mous chal­lenge: how do they en­gage young tuned-out Aus­tralians?

Those who were born into La­bor or Lib­eral fam­i­lies and voted that way for life are get­ting older. Life­time po­lit­i­cal loy­al­ties no longer mat­ter; younger peo­ple are not in­ter­ested in par­ties but is­sues per­tain­ing to the planet.

Some may sneer, but those who do not take gen­uine steps to meet these con­cerns will face their own ex­tinc­tion.

For the hard-line con­ser­va­tives, who may not agree with cli­mate change or think its threat is over­stated, they have a choice. Ig­nore the new gen­er­a­tion of vot­ers or watch their own rel­e­vance melt be­neath their feet.

La­bor has stolen the Greens ground on cli­mate change in a clever ploy that sets them up for years to come.

But they will need to be care­ful to de­liver in mean­ing­ful ways or face re­jec­tion from a gen­er­a­tion that makes split­sec­ond de­ci­sions based on the un­reg­u­lated flow of ques­tion­able in­for­ma­tion.

If younger peo­ple are tun­ing out to tra­di­tional pol­i­tics, they are en­grossed on one ma­jor pol­icy event: how the planet will look 50 years from now.

For them, that is not a story for next week or next year. It is today’s news.

The old adage goes: if you don’t vote left when you’re young you don’t have a heart; if you don’t vote right when you’re older you don’t have a brain.

That no longer ap­plies. They are think­ing about oxy­gen, not su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

How the con­ser­va­tive par­ties will ap­peal to younger vot­ers who be­lieve their planet is dy­ing is set to be­come their great­est test.

Pic­ture: RICHARD WAUGH/AAP

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