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Here's Why The Greens Say It's Time For A Minister For Youth

All about tha yoof.

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Malcolm Turnbull is a bit of a dud who doesn't care about young people. That's Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young's conclusion after three weeks of the federal election campaign.

Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP / Getty Images

The South Australian senator sat down (on green chairs behind green foliage) with BuzzFeed News in her Adelaide office to share her concerns about young people being forgotten by Labor and the Coalition.

"What's clear is that the Liberals rule for the big end of town and the rich while leaving young people behind," she said.

"This myth and crap that goes around saying that young people are disengaged and apathetic, it's just not true. What they are is they feel as though politicians have been trying to put them in a box and put them to the side for too long," Hanson-Young said.

It's not that young people aren't interested, it's that there are no politicians out there who are interested in being their voice, Hanson-Young argues.

She thinks the next government should create a Youth portfolio and appoint a minister for youth, whose job it would be to represent in parliament the issues and concerns of people under 30.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale speaks with volunteers. Julian Smith / AAPIMAGE

"I think we should have a minister for youth," Hanson-Young said. "The Greens have advocated for a minister for the youth for quite some time."

Hanson-Young thinks a youth minister should be advised by (get this) actual young people, and should not just represent stereotypical youth issues.

"That's not what engaging with young people is all about. It's actually about the perspective of a younger person that you bring to the broader issues that affect us all."

The majority of Greens volunteers are under 30 and Hanson-Young says they're concerned about a range of issues that don't affect them directly, from refugees to climate change and foreign aid.

“Young people care about the bigger issues such as global warming and a compassionate response to people seeking asylum. Unfortunately for Malcolm Turnbull, he’ll have to do more than swan around in his leather jacket to woo young voters at this election," Hanson-Young told BuzzFeed News.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

The government's lack of higher education policy, despite foreshadowing partial fee deregulation and billion dollar cuts to universities, is one of the Greens' biggest concerns this election.

"How crazy is that? It's [a] key aspect of innovation, job building, nation building. Malcolm Turnbull is meant to be the 'innovation prime minister' and he's going to the election without a higher education policy?"

Specifically Hanson-Young has concerns about the government's PaTH Internship program and the plan to partially deregulate universities.

"I have real concerns about the potential for exploitation in a program that links income support for young people to $4-an-hour internships," Hanson-Young said.

"It's clear that, under Malcolm Turnbull, young people will struggle to make a strong start in building their careers."

Labor shadow minister for youth, Sam Dastyari, also backs the idea of a youth minister because he thinks young people aren't given the attention they deserve.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

"Let's not kid ourselves: there are specific policies and issues that relate directly to young Australians. Unfortunately their political voice is often not heard."

"Pundits like to say that young Australians aren't interested in engaging in policy and political debates. That is utter rubbish."

"With a minister for representing ageing and a minister for multiculturalism, it only makes sense that dedicated focus is given to empowering young Australians."

Check out our full live Facebook chat with Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young here.

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Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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