They’re too young to vote but that’s not going to stop Australian teenagers from telling Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Bob Brown exactly what they think of them.
Internet giant Google has created a platform for a simulated federal election, inviting 15 to 17-year-olds in schools across Australia to cast their ballots from August 9-12.
The leaders will find out just how well, or poorly, they’re regarded by the voters of tomorrow, in the week before adults cast their votes in the real poll.
‘Next generation of leaders’
It will be fascinating to see if the “youth election” result is mirrored on August 21.
Ms Gillard has wasted no time hitting the simulated hustings, spruiking what she called Australia’s first political social network hosted by the ALP, urging teens to get on, log in and get involved.
“I’m very pleased to be talking to the next generation of leaders, decision makers and voters,” she said.
“Sure it’s a simulation but it’s a way of casting a vote and having your say over who you think should be the prime minister of the country for the future.”
But an address from Mr Abbott was nowhere to be seen. He relied on the Liberal Member for Bradfield Paul Fletcher to pass on his pitch to young voters at the project’s Sydney launch on Wednesday.
Greens Leader Bob Brown in his YouTube address said his party would give an optional vote to 16-year-olds.
“Democracy is where it’s at. If you want to vote for the 21st century, vote Green,” he said, citing a long list of the world’s problems including climate change and trillions spent on weapons.
Voters of the future
Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn said Google’s Student Voice project was a great opportunity for the voters of the future.
“Google has made this election as realistic as possible by adopting the standards and processes that the Australian Electoral Commission itself uses for the conduct of federal elections,” he said.
Teachers will register their schools for the simulated vote and students will then log on to complete ballot papers for the seat in which their schools are located.
The ballot papers for the House of Representatives and the Senate will carry the names of real life candidates vying for those seats.