Get Your Toe Off The Party Line


On Four Corners last week we met Young Liberal Alessia Maruca on the campaign trail with the Liberal member for Brisbane, Teresa Gambaro.

When quizzed about her personal views on gay marriage, Maruca told ABC journalist Janine Cohen that while she supported gay marriage, she knew that the Coalition, by way of Tony Abbott's refusal of a conscience vote, did not share her view. Maruca continued, saying that a "lot of my gay friends, especially those in the Party, believe that they're a Liberal first and a gay person second. So to us, especially in the younger wings of the Party, it's not really an issue."

But the exact reason why this isn't an issue is the real issue at hand.

More often than not, I encounter people in the 18-30 demographic, who are members of a political party and who will blindly follow whatever their party tells them is right or wrong. I've seen people involved in student politics who are too afraid to stray from the party message because they are so wrapped up in the spectacle of politics. This is as true in the Labor party as it is in the Coalition, or any other party.

I hope that in the future we see a generation of leaders who don't idly sit by and follow a pack mentality.

Real change only happens with a proper debate between informed members both within and outside party ranks. Real leaders should not just be plucked from political science classes, but from all walks of life and experiences.

Australia runs the real risk of handing over tough political debate to a generation afflicted by the herd mentality,  too afraid to debate big issues within their own party. We run the risk of breeding a generation of politicians whose only real experience is that found within the machinery of political parties. In June, Labor Senator Doug Cameron asked the ABC, "what's wrong with a bit of colour and movement, what's wrong with people actually saying what they think, what's wrong with different views in the Labor party?"

Doug Cameron also referred to the increasing rhetoric that people my age, both knowingly and unknowingly, seem to only strengthen in today's political landscape. Nodding to the notorious “talking points” scandal which plagued the dying days of the Gillard leadership, Cameron asked: "Why should I just take a view that some kid in the media department of some minister or the PMO [Prime Minister's Office] is telling me what I should say? This is nonsense."

I hope that after the election we can see a revived political debate within the country. An honest, open and truthful political debate is what this nation needs. The people best placed to lead that charge are my generation, the 18-30 year olds. These are the people responsible for ensuring the survival of difference of opinion. Three word slogans, daggy catch phrases, factional thuggery and colour coordinated t-shirts are not the standard that decades of political debate should equate to in this country.

7 September was a day of change — but that change needs to continue in the political culture of all the parties. It starts with Gen Y.

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.