The power of the youth vote is changing Queensland’s political landscape

It is voters like 28-year-old Hugh Thomas who changed the political landscape of Queensland after the federal election this weekend.

He lives in Clayfield, on the northern edge of the Brisbane electorate – one of three inner-city seats expected to fall to the Greens.

The Brisbane seat has the second highest concentration of young voters of all voters in Australia – where 18- to 29-year-olds represent more than a quarter of voters.

Not far behind are its sister “greenslide” seats — Griffith and Ryan — where youths make up 24.7 percent and 22.5 percent of the electoral roll.

And while regional Queensland remains the LNP’s core area – accounting for 40 percent of the coalition’s federal seats – the gap between urban and regional voters has widened since 2019.

From blue to green

Engineer Hugh Thomas, 28, voted for the LNP in the last federal election in 2019, but this time put the Greens in first place.

Mr Thomas thought that the major parties were in a race to the bottom.

“They ran a very negative campaign and I had to pick someone who did something positive,” he said.

ranking

voters

Voters from 18-29

1

Melbourne

26.90 percent

2

Brisbane

25.70 percent

3

Griffith

24.70 percent

4

canberra

23.10 percent

5

Ryan

22.50 percent

Source: Electoral registration data

Thomas said he felt his vote away from the major parties would still lead to change.

“I hope they will stand up at the right times – to be honest I’ll take a closer look at whether the Labor Party is listening to them or not,” he said.

Griffith University political commentator Susan Harris Rimmer said young people in the inner-city suburbs are on the front lines of issues shaping the election.

“What has happened is two massive floods and a community that has been hit pretty hard by COVID, especially people who rent and work on the front lines,” she said.

Headshot of Griffith University Professor Susan Harris Rimmer smiling.
Professor Susan Harris Rimmer says young inner-city suburbs are on the front lines on issues that shape the election.Provided: Susan Harris Rimmer

Professor Harris Rimmer said the Greens took a hyper-local approach to campaigning and policy, which appealed to young voters.

LNP holds out beyond the southeast

In 2019, regional Queensland saw a surge in LNP support in the wake of Bob Brown’s anti-coal convoy, and while it retained all seats outside the South East this time around, many of its margins were narrow.

Capricornia and Flynn both saw more than 6 percent swings to Labour.

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