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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 428 ..


strongly engaged with politics on issues that resonate with them and in ways that work with them. They are less beholden to traditional party politics and government processes, but it is wrong to assume that they are not politically aware.

You do not believe that young people are engaged with politics? A recent study from the University of Sydney found that 40 per cent of young people frequently share and comment on political posts on their social media. On top of that they like, retweet or favourite these posts. A study by the University of Canberra has found that people aged under 35 are more likely than 35 to 70-year-olds to have participated in political action.

The recent voluntary marriage equality survey had a participation rate of 82.4 per cent in the ACT, the highest of any state or territory m Australia. A 2004 survey found that 55 per cent of secondary school students had signed a petition; 21 per cent have collected signatures for a petition; and 15 per cent had participated in a demonstration. Young people are 16 per cent more likely to participate in a boycott than older Australians. Clearly, young people engage in politics. The challenge is clear: we do not need to engage young people with politics; we need to engage them with electoral politics and government.

Community engagement is often considered to be a bit of a buzzword, but it is a vital function of government. In an age of increasing political polarisation and community atomisation, a focus on engaging with the Canberran community is important in bringing us all together. Consultation builds trust in government and is beneficial to any government as an important feedback mechanism. Central to this, Canberrans should not be made to feel that they are only consulted for one day once every four years.

Very briefly, I want to talk about the privilege of political class. I have seen it time and again in my short time in this placeā€”the people who get the positions, the people who win the policy debates in the community and the people who dominate the agenda are the people who turn up, and they turn up constantly. That is all unpaid. To succeed in political engagement you need to be privileged in some way. You need to be able to spend copious amounts of time doing unpaid labour, and overwhelmingly and often that excludes young people.

If you are a shift worker, there is a strong chance you are not going to catch your local MLA at the shops when you do your shopping at 8 pm on a Sunday. If you are a young person you probably do not answer the family landline or answer the family door when a politician comes calling. If you are raising a new family you probably do not have the time or the ability to sit in engagement committee meetings. If you are only just scraping by week to week, you probably cannot afford to take time off work to have a meeting with government in business hours. Many in this place are aware of this but, generally speaking, most do not even think about it.

Engagement comes in many forms: community meetings, knocking on doors, newsletters, phone calls, community events, traditional media and street stalls, just to name a few. But they all ultimately target the mums and dads, the retirees, the full-time worker on a 9 to 5 schedule. They target the owner of the home, not


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