Election 2016: Australia’s voters are getting older

Angus Kidman 2 June 2016


Almost a third of registered voters are aged 60 or more.

When the 2016 Federal election finally rolls around on 2 July, exactly 15,676,659 Australians will be eligible to vote. That's 963,000 more people than at the last election, and includes 132,000 names which were added to the electoral roll after the election was announced (perhaps in response to all the prompting from Google Now and other services).

Most of those 132,000 new voters will have turned 18 since the last election. Indeed, 15,771 of them are on the role provisionally, because they'll turn 18 before the election date even though they're not 18 yet. But that slight increase in the numbers doesn't change the basic facts: Australia's voting population is dominated by the elderly. Check out the chart below, which shows the percentage of eligible voters by age:

In total, 29.7% of voters are aged 60 or more. That means that issues which are of particular concern to that age group, such as superannuation rules, are going to get a lot of play during the election campaign. In reality, proposed changes to superannuation would have far more impact on people who haven't retired yet, but election campaigns often have more to do with perception than with factual reality. Conversely, issues which affect younger demographics, such as how university fees are set, aren't seeing much discussion.

There is some variation at state level. The percentage of over-60s is even higher in the most populous states (NSW and Victoria). Despite its reputation as a retiree wonderland, Queensland actually has a smaller percentage of over-70s than the national average. The percentage of over-60s is also markedly lower in the ACT and Northern Territory, but their overall populations are so small that this doesn't affect the national numbers much.

Finally, remember this. With 15.7 million odd Australians eligible to vote, that means that almost 10 million people don't get to vote. Many of them will be under 18, and they're the ones who will live with the consequences of the decisions the electorate makes in the decades to come. Your vote shouldn't just be about what's good for you; it should be about what you believe would be good for everyone.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

Picture: Shutterstock

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