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… And Here’s What She Thinks About The Election

That’s right – the average Aussie is a 38-year-old woman, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from an election campaign dominated by men

By Felicity Robinson & Anna Saunders

Here at PRIMER, we got tired of complaining to each other about the dearth of female voices throughout the election campaign. There’s only so many times you can shout, ‘Enough of the tax talk!’ at your computer, or your colleague (even though we women care about tax, too). So, we had the novel idea of actually asking women (all aged 38 – you know, the AVERAGE Australian) to name the top three issues that actually matter to them. And here’s what they said.

Apsara Baldovino, account manager, NSW

What matters to you?

1. Climate change. If we don’t take steps to look after our planet and environment, nothing else matters, as we or future generations will simply cease to exist.

2. Gender pay inequality. As a nation we are still so far behind – whether with inequality in pay or representation of women in senior positions; it’s just moving way too slowly.  If every organisation were to do a pay-gap analysis and set in place some actionable targets, we’d be making more progress.

3. Cost of child care. As a mother working part-time, a significant proportion of my salary goes towards child care. While I only have one child at the moment, I can’t imagine the financial impact on our family were we to grow.

What one word would you use to describe the election? Uninspiring

Sara Marshall, subsea engineer, WA

What matters to you?

1. Tax rates (income and superannuation)

2. Immigration – not reducing intake as some ultra-conservatives want to do. Immigration matters to me because I am an immigrant and believe that diversity of beliefs and ideas makes for a much healthier and more accepting culture.

3. Environment/global warming

How would you describe the election campaign this year? Depressing

Anne-Marie Cheney, partnerships manager, NSW

What matters to you? 

1. Childcare support – as a mother of two children under three, a large portion of mine and my husband’s salary goes towards child care, as we have no immediate family support in Sydney. Childcare fees keep increasing, with Sydney fees considerably higher than interstate cities, and the rebate does not cover much over the course of a year here.

2. Environment, in particular climate change – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero and policies that reward shifts to renewable energy sources, and encourage business to invest in this. We all need to have this matter to us; it affects everyone, not least the next generation and the planet they will inherit.

3. Asylum Seekers – since becoming a mother, I have become so much more aware and compassionate towards refugees. The way our government currently treats them is absolutely appalling, and they should not be traded for political points. Sadly, I don’t think either the Coalition or Labor are doing enough in this area.

One word to describe this election? Uninspiring

Zoe Cox, economic policy advisor, NSW

What matters to you? 

Climate change – we are at a critical turning point; failure to act now will have irreversible and far-reaching effects (plus, think of the opportunities for innovation).

Rising inequality and the inadequacy of the social safety net – I want to live in a society that cares for those most vulnerable, and shares its wealth – the collective social and economic outcomes are almost always better.

Treatment of refugees – Our current approach is inhumane.

One word to describe the election? Close

Daniela Elser, journalist, NSW

What matters to you?

Refugees. I think future generations will judge us harshly, as they should, for letting our government detain vulnerable people in horrific and brutal conditions. It’s an issue that sporadically registers on the national agenda but it’s time to put a stop to this barbaric way of managing asylum seekers.

Climate change/the environment. Inaction on this issue is no longer a question. Weekly, new data comes out which paints a terrifying picture of the state our world is in. I am SO SICK of politicians beholden to mining interests ducking and weaving when it comes to doing anything meaningful to address climate change because time is running out.

Health/education funding. I want to live in a society where access to medial treatment and a good education are a universal right. Our teaches, doctors and nurses are all struggling with dwindling budgets and ageing infrastructure. I am sick of all the talk of self-interested tax cuts – let’s put that money to much better use and fix the healthcare and education systems.

One word to describe the election? Depressing. We have a depressing lack of vision, charisma and leadership from both of the major parties. I don’t feel like either ScoMo or Bill have any real vision for our country in way Paul Keating and John Howard did.

Mel Drennan, art director, NSW

What matters to you? Climate Change/Environment: because soon we won’t have a world to live in if we don’t start taking care of it!

2. Supporting women in the workplace/child-care support/super for women. Being a mother should be a paid job!

3. Refugees: Because everyone deserves a safe place to live.

Lucy Ryan, doctor, Vic

Three most important issues to me and why?

Healthcare, education and the environment. I would like to see the gaps in our health system bridged to allow better access to excellent medical care for all Australians.

Education – we need improvement in the education system, from preschool to tertiary, to ensure all children can gain a great education regardless of their socioeconomic status.

The environment. I would love to see the government committing to protecting our planet in the long run.

One word to describe the campaign? Disappointing

O’Bray Prince, senior midwife, NSW

What matters to me?

Penalty Rates: Because at some stage in most our lives we have relied on penalty rates to pay the bills. We should be compensated for missing Christmas and our children’s weekend sport, and for working all through the night.

Aged Care: Because they are the most vulnerable members of our community and yet the government treats them like second-class citizens. Why should the elderly who have given society so much sit in their own excrement for hours? They deserve more.

Minimum wage. Recently, having had a baby, I have been living on the minimum wage and it breaks my heart to think people live off this as the only income in their family.

Offshore Detention Centres. Because the inhumane treatment of refugees is something we will look back on as one of the worst periods of our history and not something I want to define us. How can we allow people to be treated without basic human rights in our names and hold our head up?

My election word would be? Defining.

Ashley Gabriel de Sousa, Director Marketing and Publicity, TV, NSW

What are the three issues that matter to me?

Education – I am proud to send my kids to their local public school but I can see they simply do not receive enough funding and it needs to change.

Climate Change – the government could be doing more to encourage reductions in mass use of plastic. The amount of plastic packaging in everyday purchases such fruit and vegetables is shocking.

Health – everyone knows our hospitals are underfunded and under stress; we hear about it every day and I will vote based on this issue

The election this year is: critical

Julia Bailey, impact investment advisor, NSW

The three issues that matter to me?

Climate change – specifically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Gender equality, with a particular focus on eliminating the pay gap, but also encompassing supporting working parents, affordable childcare etc.

Waste, by addressing the recycling crisis.

One word to describe the election? Cringeworthy.

Katie Young, social worker and provisional psychologist, NSW

What matters to me?

Domestic and Family Violence and Homelessness: These issues matter because people are dying; we are seeing more women die each week because of DFV and more children experiencing long-term impacts of complex trauma, because we cannot offer the holistic services needed, or even enough beds in refuges  to help those escaping a DFV situation.

Environment – Climate Change: Our climate is changing at a rapid rate, much due to human activity and I believe we have an ethical responsibility to our environment, flora and fauna to make sure we do all we can to think and live sustainably, so all future generations can enjoy this magical world.

Education: It matters to me as we need to allow integrity and equity in all streams of education, so we cater for the needs of all students.

One word to sum up the campaign? Spiteful

Annabel Woodhams, advertising director, NSW

The three issues that matter? 

Sustainability. Sustainability for me means ensuring we (as a society) consider the impact of our decisions and indecision on the future for generations to come. Are we setting them up for failure or success in terms of health, job security, infrastructure and economic measures?

Changing education and work towards re-education for the future at a national level to avoid high unemployment.

Cutting political BS for better long-term economic interests.

Current election in one word: Dire

Kim Harvison, teacher, QLD

What are the top 3 issues that matter to you this election?

Cost of living – so many families are finding it harder and harder to get by each week and this in turn is leading to so many more concerning issues in our society.

Childcare costs – it is impossible for many families to afford child care and the problem is just getting worse.

Sustainable future – our government needs to take the issue of environmental destruction much more seriously and invest in long-term, sustainable, environmental-friendly solutions.

What is the one word you would use to describe this year’s election? Frustrating

Emma Bryant, accountant, bookkeeper, Qld

What matters to you?

The economy: It is important that we keep the economy strong, keep the budget in the black and our total debt down whilst paying back long-term debt.

Taxes: There is a need to simplify tax structures and reduce taxes for businesses and individuals.

Franking credits, negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax need to remain unchanged. It is important that people are able to save and grow investments for retirement and not be reliant on the Government for the age pension.

I think that election is nerve-wracking! (I am very worried about the outcome.)

Fiona Robinson, Marketing and Communications Consultant, Vic

What matters to you?

Childcare: As a working mum of two, the cost of child care is an important issue for my family. Unfortunately I don’t believe any of the major parties are doing enough to help ease the financial strain of early education in Australia and encourage highly capable women back into the workforce after having children.

Climate Change: We need to see real commitment to reducing emissions in Australia and investment in renewable energy.

Income Tax: I would support income tax relief for small business in particular who fuel innovation and growth in the economy.

One word you would use to describe the election: Tense

Megan Shipley, public servant, NSW

What matters to you?

Climate change: We’ve had 10 years where neither of the major parties have got their act together and meanwhile there’s mounting evidence of the damage that’s being done to the planet.

Health: I wouldn’t have thought this would be in my top three before the election but Labour has a small health policy and the Coalition has been really silent, which makes me concerned

Childcare: I have three-year-old twins. We’re reasonably well off but child care is eye-wateringly expensive. How does that gel with policy objectives like keeping women in the workforce?

One word to sum up the campaign? Personal – it seems like most of the headlines are about the personal attacks. It’s just really boring and doesn’t help anyone understand the issues.

Miriam Raphael, copywriter, NSW

What matters to you?

Environment: Our oceans, forests, wildlife and climate has been trashed by successive governments. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever and that terrifies me.

Poverty and Inequality: More than three million Australians are living in poverty, including 739,000 children, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It’s a disgrace! I want a government that prioritises fairness and compassion.

Education: We must lift teacher performance. Teacher education is so important and it’s one area where the federal government can act.

One word to describe the election? Mediocre

Janya Clemens, events manager, Vic

What matters to you?

Action on the climate emergency we are currently facing

Asylum-seeker reform 

Stronger support for single parents – in particular, rolling back the punitive ParentsNext. As the child of a single parent, I find it astounding that single parents are still not provided with better supports within the community and from government.

What one word would you use to describe the election campaign this year? One-sided.

Lisa Cox, writer, Queensland 

What matters to you?

Economy Issues like tax reform, changes to superannuation and changes to property tax (negative gearing) and how it all affects interest rates are all currently important to me.



What one word would you use to describe the election campaign this year? DISAPPOINTING 

Candice, senior account manager, NSW

What election issues do you care about?

The environment. I liken the bitching and bickering between the parties to the drama of pre-season-8 Game of Thrones…I mean, who cares who’s in charge if we wipe out civilisation by ignoring climate change or White Walkers?

Health care/saving Medicare. Protecting independent media from further budget cuts

What one word would you use to describe the election campaign this year? Hopeful

Meena Mittal, doctor, Vic

What matters to you this election?

Gender and social inequity. I believe that a society where there is genuine equality is more progressive, more empathic with less adverse social issues like domestic violence, sexual abuse, suicide, gender pay gap, mental health issues, substance abuse etc, and such a society is very important for our future generations (including my 6 year old and 18 month old child).

Future growth of the Australian economy

Treatment of refugees, especially those requiring medical assistance

What one word would you use to describe the election campaign this year? Dirty

Julia Power, marketing executive, NSW

What election issues matter to you? 

Child care is a significant burden on my family. The cost of child care should be better regulated. Otherwise, centres will continue to jack up their prices, absorbing the subsidy that was expected to go to the end user.  We are in the middle-income bracket, so our benefits run out quickly each year.  It frustrates me that there isn’t more appreciation and support for those women who want to and can contribute to the workforce in a meaningful way. 

Energy. Governments are so short-sighted and focused on the next polls that neither side is willing to tackle the longer-term issues such as energy. We have more natural resources than any other country in the world, yet we have one of the highest power prices.  Every single person, product, and business is affected by the cost of power. It’s a major strain on the cost of living.

Healthcare – the system is broken. The private healthcare industry increases its prices well above inflation every single year.  We pay income tax of which a portion helps to fund the states’ healthcare budgets, and then we pay a Medicare levy, then most Australians pay for private healthcare and to top it all off we also have to pay a gap when you see a medical professional.  No wonder so many families are choosing to ditch their private healthcare cover.

One word to describe the election? Disenchanted. Politics has descended into such disarray. Ideally, I want our politicians to start acting like grown-ups, respect the office they’ve been elected to and represent the views of the people who have put them in the position of power. The behaviour of bullying and politicking is a complete distraction for the real job of running the country effectively. You only have to look over to New Zealand for an example of stellar leadership in Jacinda Arden.

Amanda Dunne, senior communications manager, Qld

The issues that matter to me?

Climate change and sustainability. My daughter’s lifetime extends into the next century and I worry about what kind of world her generation will inherit if we continue not to act on climate change.

Housing affordability

Mental health

One word that describes the election this year? Dismal 

Zena Condell, stay-at-home mum, NSW

What are the top 3 issues you care about?

Climate change

The gender gap in government. Different genders have different needs, so why doesn’t the government – which is meant to represent us all – better reflect that.

Human rights

One word to describe the election? Uninspiring

Sarah Morrison, public servant, WA

What issues matter to you?

Women’s health issues. I think it’s an issue that’s not well represented by politicians, particularly around abortion laws in the states.

Education: I’m keen on a lifetime learning approach. There are definitely kids who need extra support like kids with disabilities and kids in and out of home care.

Home ownership support: I’ve just moved from Sydney to WA to save a deposit for a house as I can’t rent and save in Sydney.

One word to describe the election? Ordinary


BY Felicity Robinson & Anna Saunders

Felicity and Anna are the co-founders of PRIMER

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