Shortypants & Someone: What my kids think of the election
FRANKING credits looms as the 2019 Federal Election flashpoint, but have you ever tried to discuss that with an eight-year-old?
"Franking credits? Don't you mean Frankfurt credits Dad?"
"Yeah! For hotdogs and raffle tickets at my school's election stall."
It's the important issues that matter when you talk to your children about the election. Contested between "Scott Something" and "Billy Shortypants" and turning on such issues as "I don't know" and "not sure", this year's election has completely underwhelmed Australia's oft neglected Grade 3 demographic.
So what would make them more engaged? To find out I conducted a bit of question time with my very own third grader.
The good news for Billy Shortypants is she's voting Labor. The bad news is she doesn't know why and won't be eligible to vote until 2028. Does she care about who wins?
"I care because it's about making Australia" - please don't say "great again", please don't "great again" - "better for everyone." Phew.
So what are the big issues of this campaign?
"Taxes are too high, bills are too high," she says, having never paid a cent of tax in her life.
I guess that puts her in a similar category to Adani - that other election flashpoint - but perhaps it was a bit ambitious asking about that.
"What? Aldi is building a mine?"
Okay, next question.
One of the first things you learn when you talk to a kid about the election is how susceptible they are to the onslaught of political advertising. And when I ask about Australia's main political parties her answer is mildly terrifying.
"There's three main groups," she tells me, "Labor, Liberal, and the Put Australia First Party." The Put Australia First Party? I guess that's what a $30-million political ad bonanza gets you, Clive Palmer: recognition among eight-year-old kids.
The horrorshow of the past few years of political knifings isn't lost on her either. She says she's tired of all the fighting and finds the prime ministerial shuffle "kinda annoying".
In that sense she's no different to her parents, whose feelings about the upcoming election are ambivalent to say the least.
We're a household of latte-sipping swingers (in the political sense of the word only, thank you) with no allegiances to any of the major parties and a deep aversion to most of the minor ones: One Nation, Family First, Jacqui Lambie's Aussie Legends Party, United Australia, whichever one believes the lizard people are running the earth, etc.
Politics is not a nightly topic in our house and our daughter wasn't one of the 20,000 kids that walked out of school to protest inaction on climate change. She doesn't use Keep Cups for takeaway hot chocolates, for example, or ambush Tony Abbott when he's out for his morning tour of communal libraries.
It's not that she doesn't care about that stuff. For now she's just happy being a kid. She's never expressed any interest in attending a protest, and she's at the age where I can't even limit the amount of time she spends playing Roblox, let alone tell her what to care about.
But in spite of all that, when it comes to the things that matter she's pretty clear. That's the other thing you learn when you talk politics with your kid. Their sense of what's right is pretty innate.
"Whoever becomes prime minister should help people without jobs, ban plastic straws, and give more money to public schools."
So are you listening Scott Something and Billy Shortypants? The kids of Australia have something to say.
Darren Levin is a columnist for RendezView. @darren_levin