Charlie Caruso

Charlie Caruso

Citizen Journalist and author/editor of Understanding Y, who obsesses over the idea of re-engineering the political system, Charlie was head of global growth for MiVote, is an avid #auspol Tweeter and passionate about political disruption and improving the way we make decisions in Australia. "Right now, we’re all on a plane, and we've realised the pilot is drunk. The election is our opportunity to get the drunk pilot out of the cockpit and hand over to one that’s flown the plane before and can get us down safely," she said.
Charlie Caruso
What I am REALLY interested in is re-engineering a new kind of plane that doesn't allow drunk pilots to even get into the cockpit. One that requires a new kind of pilot, new kind of pilot training, more fuel efficient and goes longer, feels better etc. You’ll hear a lot from me on this, once #ausvotes2019 is over. Disclaimer - I’ve been a member of the Liberals, Labor, Greens, and have preferenced the Independents and minor/micro parties almost exclusively. I don’t see political colours, but I keep an eye on the actions and try to fight against the dysfunction across the political rainbow.

A few months out from the 2019 Australian federal election the flurry of graphs, predictions and opinion pieces about “safe seats” and “seats in danger” have begun to fill my Twitter feed. These predictions — numbers that often dictate target electorates for a procession of campaign buses — is largely based on the data of past voting behaviour.

Which is interesting.

It’s interesting to me to think that the ‘old guard’ are under the assumption that Gen Y, now in our thirties (and if we haven’t already, are thinking about starting a family) will follow past voting behaviour. Because it’s just about now that Australian Millennials are starting to pay attention to the decisions being made on our behalf. Funnier still, few of us even remember who we voted for at the last election, let alone have any loyalty to them!

Like the majority of Australians, Millennials are feeling the pinch from the deliberate “design feature” the government has been using to keep wages low (despite the cost of living continuing to rise). However, unlike other generations before us, we’re only now getting our feet into the housing market, because many of us are still repaying the debt we racked up at university (coincidentally charged by the same institutions who lectured the very politicians who made us pay for our degrees, despite the fact they were taught for free). #Cheers

We’re a generation who won’t be impressed by stale white men kissing our babies (because when was your last booster inoculation?) or staged political debates on TV (tbh our Netflix “to watch” list is far too long). We don’t passively consume Murdoch headlines like our parents once did. If we want news, we want it before it reaches TV, and receive it often via a hashtag.

And even if we did catch a headline or two from the old-school media channels covering the  traditional political campaigns, little substance of value is likely to penetrate our well-honed bullshit detectors, a result of the constant barrage of marketing messages since birth.

Our generation is comfortable with rapid change, that’s all we’ve ever known. Which is why the notion that we’d be loyal to “a party” election after election is laughable. It’s like expecting loyalty to our employers – the reality is we’ll stay put providing the conditions suit us, but we’re not going to stick around and suffer when they don’t. We understand loyalty from employers or politicians was only ever a one-way street, which is why we’re in no hurry to return it.


Being Gen Y myself, I’m young enough to remember being annoyed at having to constantly unravel the living room telephone cord, the length of which was directly proportional to the effort our parents had to exert to keep abreast of our social lives.

Our first TV didn’t have a remote, and weighed the same as our car*. I remember submitting school assignments on floppy disks in high school, but upgrading to USBs by university. When I got my drivers licence I used the road map stored in my glove box, which meant I needed to study the journey before I left, because often it ran over three or so pages.

Yet my children have unending entertainment options. They have Netflix, YouTube and devices galore**. They’ll never need to read or own a road map, because they have Siri and Google Maps. And as Millennials, we’ve seen this all go down. Rapid, transformative change is all we know.

Which is what makes the 2019 election so interesting.

We have the ingredients of a game-changing result, with a generation so content with change, so averse to bullshit, now the largest voting demographic in Australia; and, thanks to the 2017 marriage equality survey, roughly 90,000 new voters enrolled to vote then, with about the same expected to enrol for 2019.

Political evolution

It gets better, not only are Millennials the largest voting cohort, they’re also the generation to yield the most influence over the SECOND largest voting demographic: our parents, the Baby Boomers. Dun dun dun.

This week Crikey published a hotly debated piece on What is keeping Millennials out of politics in Australia and many readers — including Mark E Smith — contributed their thoughts on the matter.

“People like AOC [USA’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] are precisely what’s needed. The smell of revolution brewing is one of the few things that will generate actual change and not just focus groups and campaign promises. There’s quite a bit of worried hand wringing in the conservative business press lately. The ruling classes tend to know their history and they can see the tide changing.[source]

After a year in parliament, Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John spoke with Chris Woods about his major concern for young people was whether Australia “will have a democracy to participate in within the next couple of decades”.

“Because the extent of political corruption, cash for access, hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate money that flows through our system and by certain industries like the banking sector, for instance, the ability to really write their own legislation… that is a massive intergenerational challenge… It means that the corporate power of sectors like the mining industry, like the gambling industry, tobacco, is put against the needs of young people in a way that so often negatively affects us,” Steele-John said.

Woods also interviewed 30-year-old Greens Councillor Jonathan Sri, who stated that, “young people are right to be really cynical of electoral politics but that doesn’t mean we should turn our back on it altogether”.

“When we take our eye off this game, that’s when they screw us the most.”

There is no doubt in my mind that 2019 has the potential to be the start of a political evolution that none of the old guard can see coming. The ingredients are all there!

However, the challenge will be how we turn the oven on and activate the interest for Gen Y to rise to the occasion.

It won’t be easy. Getting and holding our attention will be the hardest part.

But the opportunity is there for authentic voices to speak up, to speak loud and to win our Millennial hearts.

Watch this space.

* Exaggeration

**actually my kids don’t – I am a grinch mum who restricts tech, TV weekends only and they only have an iPod.