Who do our pollies speak for? Not the old or the young 110



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Today’s politicians don’t speak for the selfie-stick generation, according to an article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald by a young political candidate … But do they really speak for the over 60 as this young candidate believes?

23-year-old Clara Roldan, who is standing against the Premier, Mike Baird, as Greens’ candidate for Manly in this month’s NSW election, wrote the piece that accuses the Australian political environment of being “full of older men in suits grandstanding about their children and their grandchildren”. But is it? Or is this far from the truth?

“My generation, the generation of selfie-sticks, viral videos and constant, instant communication, will inherit the environmental and political landscape that is being shaped today,” said Ms Roldan.

“Young people today face a world that will be completely alien to anything that has come before us; traditional models of employment are collapsing, house prices are so high that the suburban white picket fence will remain out of reach until we are well into our 40s (or perhaps forever) and, most importantly, the earth is heating up”.

But Ms Roldan is adamant that what is being offered by today’s politicians is not enough for young people. Dare I say it, it is not enough for older people either. Most older Australians feel neglected, in favour of the 30-something childcare seeking, paid-parental leave hungry average Australian on which most policies appear to be trained in this generation, with little concern for how social services, health services or community services will serve our older group which makes up 25% of the population. Are the older Australians just as needy as the millennials?

Ms Roldan deplores, “we have descended into a juvenile battle of wills that pits one side against the other constantly, regardless of the policy or issue on the table. It’s become more important to discredit the other side (or your own party leader) than to get anything done. To use a sporting metaphor, it’s as though we’re playing a purely defensive game and no one has the courage to break free and run with the ball. This is not a political culture that engenders innovation or progress”.

“Hear, hear!” I say, but is this just a problem for the selfie-stick generation? Surely this defensive game is affecting more than just the younger people in society. It is affecting all of us. It is just that the younger person has not yet lived long enough to understand or appreciate how much older Australians are affected by political disarray where their livelihood is concerned, or their healthcare that is well needed sits.

The challenge it appears lies in the fact that no generation feels altogether well-understood at the moment, nor represented. The younger people want “more”, the older people want “more”, the parents want “more”, and companies want “more”… Who’s left to pay for it? The universities have their hand out, the hospitals have their hands cut off, there is no one left without the mining industry and the car industry – both of which we killed in the last political cycle.

Ms Roldan continues: “Young people can offer both ideas for change to the political dialogue and the energy to get things done. We have grown up with instant global communication; we are comfortable working outside traditional models and we understand effective new pathways. We use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to finance start-ups, we sell products directly to target markets through niche websites like Etsy, and we create virtual protests through Facebook and Twitter. Young people can provide the bridge we need to close the intergenerational communication gap in politics and, in doing so, re-engage our peers”.

Surely older people can offer wonderful ideas for change too, along with the wisdom required not to reinvent the wheel or think that the things that have been built today don’t have relationships to the things that existed yesterday. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the intergenerational communication gap could be closed through inclusion of both young and old in politics, both young and old in workplaces and both young and old in community.

It would be an awful travesty to think that millennials are the only generation that is misunderstood by politicians.

Do you feel represented well by either side of politics today?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. last Four Corners and Q &A were real eye openers for me, I was shocked to hear that only 20% of Baby Boomers should be getting the pension, the other 80% get the pension because because they are able to manipulate the system.. some of these self funded retiree’s have $12 million super and get a tax return from The Government of over $250 thousand a year!! No they are not Governing for the old they are Governing for the rich at the expense of all of us, young and old alike

    4 REPLY
    • The ability to ‘manipulate’ the system is evident in all aspects of welfare, government funding and subsidy. This is not restricted to any specific group of recipients. In every group, there are legitimate reasons for the funding, but sadly it is the manipulators who create the inequities which result in complex administration – ultimately costing everyone more.

    • Believe me Libbi not all Baby Boomers are abusing the system or have anywhere near that type of money, just as all young people are all users. There are unscrupulous people amongst all generations, sadly.

    • mike here-should be an indicator for gov to start checking who, without all the scaries & remove those who are manipulators.

    • So true, but think they have the figures out of whack. The rich with their fancy-pants lawyers and accountants who are the ones who manipulate the system and rip of Centrelink. And it’s time someone actually looked into them!

  2. They are governing for the rich and big business, definitely not for the younger and older generations or those in between. Joe Hockey couldn’t answer one question or make one comment straight on Q & A, his responses were all politic speak. Does he believe all of the rubbish that comes out of his mouth because we sure don’t!

  3. They Govern for the rich and cause great division between the young and the old. It is a gut wrenching situation at the moment and so unfair

    1 REPLY
    • I understand that a referendum is required to change the pension system appreciably. Creating a division is the way to win a referendum, divide & conquer.

  4. They govern for whoever will give them the most money to achieve their own personal goals. The rest of us can go to hell.

  5. They have no idea at all how a pensioner lives, they are only interested in what they can do to help the wealthy and big business, and what they can get for themselves, they should live on a pension for a month to see how the normal person lives

  6. You know I get sick of hearing pensioners whinge,the pension is not that bad. We are on the pension and can manage OK. It is a matter of living within your means.

  7. Clara Roldan is obviously a very astute young woman despite her tender years. I agree with her belief that our political culture has descended to a level that prevents positive dialogue and progress. It seems that we do all want more and in demanding this we fail to see the big picture.
    The intergenerational gap in politics and indeed in society in general has been around for ever. Nowadays we are more aware of it because social media and the internet in general gives us instant information. We tend to be negative about government policy no matter which political party is in power. The media thrives on this negativity and so the picture of doom and gloom is snow balled.
    Yes, the younger generation has much to offer and younger politicians both male and female will shape our future. Their success will depend upon a willingness to listen and to learn from older and more experienced people. Our future as a whole will depend on a breaking down of the intergeneration gap at home, at work and at play.

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