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Gen Y registers Kevin’s really on a roll CAREFUL what you wish for… 
29th-Oct-2007 02:44 am
Beach
Gen Y registers Kevin’s really on a roll

CAREFUL what you wish for in politics. Labor types have worried all year that the big swings they have been detecting in the youth belt might not translate on polling day because the electoral rolls closed one week earlier than previous elections.

"The early closure will actively lock out hundreds of thousands ... John Howard is responsible for this disenfranchisement,” thundered GetUp executive director Brett Solomon last week.

Let’s assume the conspiracy theory is correct, that the Government did intend to lock out Labor-leaning young ‘uns when it used its Senate numbers to bring forward the closing of the rolls.

Turns out the Government’s generation-mander failed, big time. Rather than discouraging the young from registering, the regime has swelled their ranks.



Late yesterday the Australian Electoral Commission released its final head count for who is registered to vote. It showed the number of 18-year-olds eligible to vote jumped by 10.3 per cent when compared with the previous election. The upshot of this is that in 2004, when the roll closed a leisurely week later, the number of 18-year-olds had fallen 0.2 per cent against the 2001 figure.

So much for that conspiracy theory. Whatever the explanation, Labor should be smiling.

The group that has swung most decisively to Kevin Rudd are the 18-24 year olds. Leaked Liberal Party polling showed the Government had lured generation Y voters while Kim Beazley was Labor leader. The Government’s primary vote was up 5.4 per cent on the 2004 election. Against Beazley, John Howard was seen as groovy. No wonder the Prime Minister thought he had a fifth victory in him.

Then Labor changed leaders last December, and the country went to Kevin. By the end of June this year, Rudd was pulling a gen Y swing of 19.4 per cent, leaving Labor 14 per cent ahead of where it had been with this tribe at the 2004 election.

It is the youth belt where the paradox of Howard’s near-full employment economy is most apparent. The 18-24s have never known recession. Yet Work Choices, climate change and housing affordability are issues that grate. At a time of plenty, the nation’s young feel they are going backwards, according to party research.

The AEC’s figures show the 18-24s have held their ground despite the general ageing of the population. They represent 11.3per cent of the 13.645 million voters registered—the same ratio as in 2004 when there were 13.021 million people on the rolls.

Where the figures get interesting is in the middle ages. The ranks of the 25-34s have dropped by 1.1 percentage points to 16.2 per cent against the 2004 roll. The working family bloc, aged 35-54, is also down 0.4 percentage points to 37.8 per cent.

No conspiracy here, though, the population is simply getting older. The grey belt, aged 55-plus has picked up at the expense of the middle, rising from 33.2 per cent of all eligible voters in 2004 to 34.7 per cent this year. It will be an election for young and old.

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