Imi is 18 and a first-time federal election voter. She is currently completing Year 12 and is studying Australian Politics for VCE. She will be voting in the inner metropolitan seat of Higgins, in Melbourne.
Imi has kindly agreed to answer some questions about the upcoming federal election. With no assumptions as to her knowledge about the current political arena I began by asking her what she knew about the current prime minister and the leader of the opposition.
What do you know?
The current PM is Scott Morrison, personally I don’t find him trustworthy at all. Everything he does on television seems dodgy, even seeing him go to the footy is weird when I don’t think he actually follows it at all. He comes across as defensive and at times aggressive, particularly in his interview with Waleed Aly. I also find him egotistical as he centres everyone question around himself and hardly his party.
Bill Shorten is the leader of the opposition. Appearance wise, he comes across as more likeable to me. I don’t really love either of them, but definitely in the political debates I have seen Shorten has seemed more genuine and honest. Like many others I found his story about his mum wanting to be a lawyer authentic.
What do you know about the electorate you will be voting in?
I am in the electorate of Higgins which is usually a safe Liberal seat. I’m also pretty sure that there has never been a Labor member for Higgins and the two-party preferred is Liberal/Greens. This year in a survey the people of Higgins said climate change was the most important issue to them in the upcoming election.
In 2019, the Liberal candidate is Katie Allen, the Greens candidate is Jason Ball, and the Labor candidate is Fiona McLeod. There are no independents running in the House of Representatives, however, there are some minor parties. Even though I am obligated to keep up to date on these things for my Australian Politics class, I have seen heaps of candidates around the train stations and at Glenferrie Road anyway.
The big issues
What issues are important to you when you are considering who to vote for?
As I have only just turned 18 in the past couple of weeks, my experience with taxes is basically non-existent. Socially, I care that a party will be progressive. I believe in more humane treatment of people seeking asylum.
Climate change I think needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds when considering who to vote for, and it definitely effects my preferences.
What would you like to see changed?
I would like to see a more stable government, genuine action on climate change and more humane treatment of the people on Manus and Nauru.
I don’t know enough about any tax policy to want/understand any change on that front really.
How interested are you in this election?
I am studying Australian Politics for Year 12 this year. Last year, I studied Legal as my Year 12 subject, and mainly chose to do politics as they complimented each other quite well.
In my family, we don’t discuss politics at home or watch any sort of political news. If I wasn’t studying it all, I think I would quite easily forget about the election.
However, for at least this year it is important I keep up to date on it all, and so I’m following it all quite closely and I do find it really interesting. It definitely influences my knowledge of the current election. Things like ‘campaign techniques’ and ‘influence of voting systems’ are all on the study design.
How interested do you think your friends are in this election and Australian politics in general?
It really varies from person to person. Everyone in my politics class is really into it, whereas many of my other friends didn’t even realise they had to enrol to vote. I think generally there isn’t a lot of understanding of what the parties actually stand for.
Where do you get most of your news and information from?
As I study it at school, I am required to read about the election and politics in general. I get most of my news from class, but otherwise I get a lot from twitter and Facebook, The Age and the ABC.
Democracy in action
Do you know how to fill out your ballot papers?
Yes, we study how to do this and my school also is running a session for Year 12s to teach anyone who is 18.
What do you know about the preference system of voting?
You must fill in all the boxes with your preference number. If an absolute majority is not gained by any one candidate (50 per cent plus one), the least popular candidate’s votes are redistributed. Everyone who put them as first preference will then have their second preference count as their full vote. This process continues until an absolute majority is gained by one candidate. It is only used to elect single-member electorates, proportional voting is used in the Senate.
Have you ever visited Parliament House or watched Question Time?
I visited Parliament House with my school in Year 6 (2013), but I don’t really remember it at all unfortunately. I see clips of Question Time on the news, usually only when something controversial happens. We have watched it a couple times when my politics class is around 2pm.
A three-corner contest
Retiring cabinet minister, Kelly O’Dwyer has held the seat of Higgins since 2009. Considered a safe Liberal seat, in 2016 O’Dwyer received a primary vote of 52pc and a 2CP vote of 57.99pc.
On Monday The Guardian reported recent polling in Higgins suggests with the Liberal primary vote tumbling to 36pc, the Greens or Labor could take the conservative heartland from Liberals. If the poll results are accurate, previous preference flows would suggest a Greens success. Climate change was considered to be a very or extremely important issue this election by 70pc of those polled.