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Our middle-aged Senate does not reflect Australia – can it be changed?

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22.05.2019

Greg is a 56-year-old man from Brisbane. Which of these people do you think he has more in common with: Steve, a 52-year-old from Adelaide, or Melanie, a 24-year-old from Toowoomba?

It’s Steve, right? Sure, they live in different states, but Melanie is a different gender, age and comes from a regional town.

So the question that occurred to me recently is: why do we still elect our Senate based solely on the state in which we live?

Historically, of course, the Senate was the “states’ house”, set up to assuage the concerns of smaller colonies that their voice would be drowned out by the biggest population hubs.

That made sense 118 years ago, but the world also seemed a lot bigger then, decades before the advent of Australian radio, never mind budget airlines and the internet.

Meanwhile, in a diverse adult population ranging from teenagers to hundred-and-teenagers, we pulled 84% of our elected senators from the ages 40-69 in 2016. This age bracket makes up less than half (47%) of the adult population.

More than any other in my 40-something lifetime, this election seemed divided along age lines as Labor sought to tap into the pent-up frustration of progressive young adults who feel they’re not progressing. But it’s worth asking how that frustration was allowed to build up in the first place.

It might be the........

© The Guardian