We asked a bunch of musicians what matters to them in the lead-up to this election

We asked a bunch of musicians what matters to them in the lead-up to this election

Sick of jobs & growth? Then this is for you.

The perception trotted out about young people and elections is that we simply don't care, we're obviously too lazy to know what's good for the country and don't ever expect us to express a political opinion. With that in mind we decided to reach out to some of these 'young' people and ask them about something important to them in this election. Topics ranged from The Great Barrier Reef, refugees all the way to an explanation from Caleb of Tiny Little Houses about why he doesn't vote. Which to us proves the 'youth' give two shits. So with that out of the way why not discover what some of Australia's most talented bands have to say and get informed about what matters to them.

Kevin Mitchell (Jebediah/Bob Evans)

The UN Human Rights review pretty much has come out and said that Australia's treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres is illegal and inhumane yet current and past policies of both major parties have done nothing to seriously address this problem. I don't like the idea of Australia being a country that violates human rights and ignores it's responsibilities as a member of the UN. I also don't like the idea of Australia lagging behind the rest of the world because of it's reluctance to act on climate change. As a prosperous nation we should be at the front of the charge at the very least and it makes me sad that now the USA and most of Europe are far more politically progressive than Australia. Obviously there are loads of important domestic issues that need addressing too, but I'd love to see our leaders talk more convincingly about our international obligations as well. We haven't hesitated to join in on every war that's being on, yet when it comes to issues of humanity, compassion and scientific led problem-solving we suddenly become very reluctant to get our hands dirty, so to speak.

Jo Syme (Big Scary/Pieater)

There are a load of issues that make me frustrated or fearful, or hopeful, or confused. In politics and social improvement there's never one side to the story and everything you want to fix usually causes something else to be broken. But I'd like to talk about the treatment of asylum seekers coming to Australia via boat. As I said during the Laneway #letthemstay campaign - it is a complex issue: "We can't let an unlimited amount of people in", "Travelling on boats is dangerous", "Other people are waiting for due process in refugee camps"... These are all valid points.

However what's black and white to me is that these people are humans in need of help. They have not broken the law. They are not getting on boats lightly, they are actually fleeing danger. They are getting on boats specifically to Australia because we are a country where safety and tolerance is possible; personal achievement and education is supported; and cultural diversity is celebrated. We all know the processing camps are shit house. Children are self harming. Doctors who have assessed these children have called them the most traumatised in their experience. It is hot. There is little shade. There is little to do. There is ill-will with local communities. There are sexual assault and rape allegations. Two separate asylum seekers resorted to self-immolation, Omid Masoumali dying from his act.

There is the suggestion that guards have traded weed for sexual favours, or allowed women longer showers if they could watch. These things I'm talking about have been confirmed by Philip Moss - a man employed by the Immigration Department themselves to make a report (after they fired the Save The Children staff for "encouraging self-harm" and after viciously attacking our Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs and requesting her resignation after she called for a Royal Commission into the treatment of children in detention). All this at the cost of half a billion dollars a year. How much better could that money be spent by helping refugees assimilate by providing language and job support, and children's education?

L-Fresh The Lion

There are so many important issues to reflect on this coming election, all of which deserve our time and energy. Some of the issues that stand out to me are policies impacting Indigenous people, asylum seekers and refugees, climate change, same-sex marriage, NBN, and the arts sector. But beyond the wide range of important policies, I'm also looking at the culture being perpetuated by political parties, and unfortunately, it's not very encouraging.

Matt Tanner (Tired Lion)

There is plenty to be discussed in the upcoming election, for example how Australia is going to approach the issues surrounding Asylum Seekers (now that both dominant sides appear to be drawing closer in policy), the growing disparity in wealth which separates people who can own five properties to another struggling to purchase their first or even the cuts to health. I don't particularly want to make comment on a lot of these because in short I don't feel I know enough to have an educated opinion.

What does hit home for me that's come to the forefront of my own little community in Perth is the cuts to community radio. My Facebook and Instagram news feeds have been swarmed with images of #keepcommunityradio and band events fundraising to donate to their local radio stations. In an area that already manages to struggle by with one or two paid employees and what seems like a hundred volunteers the Government should really be doing their bit to keep it alive. We've fully stepped into a digital age and the government's idea of a huge cut to digital radio especially seems like a backwards step when it's something that could become important in shaping careers of musicians, producers, broadcasters and even local businesses. Again it's not something I know enough about, but I think this could potentially be an area that may get overlooked as a small niche of people caring, but I definitely think in the upcoming election someone with the knowledge should be heard out so the public can hear about the potential detriment faced should community radio budgets be cut.

P.S: I read that Labour's shadow communications minister announced on FBI radio that they've committed to reverse the budget cuts when on air talking about the #keepcommunityradio campaign.


The current Australian government has low cultural self-esteem and this needs to change. The cuts to arts funding (Sounds Australia in particular) are detrimental and dangerous. We are a democracy. We need our artistic communities bolstered rather than decimated.  Contemporary government policy suggests Australia is too scared to stand on its own two feet, except when it comes to sport. We are still part of the Commonwealth for example. And most top honours on Australia Day go to sports people rather than human rights advocates, whistleblowers, or artists that intelligently challenge our useless excuse for a government.

We need to grow some guts, not through sport, but through funding our artistic communities so that Australia’s diverse cultures are adequately reflected. Without funding community radio and organisations like Sounds Australia, the ATSI Music Office and the Australia Council, artists and their creations will be silenced. Often, they can be the first to see through the Today Tonight type bullshit politicking we are bombarded with daily. Australia’s government needs to give its population’s culture some credit and invest in its growth rather than decimate it like the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier is dying. And the government is giving tax cuts to foreign companies that are dredging the reef and spoiling its delicate ecosystems. The Turnbull government and its recent predecessors should be ashamed of themselves. They are responsible for ruining one of the most unique life forms on the planet. Saving the Great Barrier Reef should be a top priority in this election. As should closing Nauru and Christmas Island. Our refugee policy makes me sick to my stomach. The mental illness-inducing suicide camps Kevin Rudd created, Tony Abbott propagated and Malcolm Turnbull exploited, need to be shut down. This should be a top priority. Refugees should be welcome in Australia.

As should carefully considered policies to address youth suicide in Indigenous communities. The First Peoples of our country are dying young. THIS should be a top priority in this election. But it’s not.

Australia could be such an incredible country. But its policy makers are destroying it as each year passes.

Marcus Whale (Collarbones)

We know that colonisation decimated the livelihood of First Nations people in Australia. We know that there continue to be shocking differences in the standard of living between indigenous and non-indigenous people and the government is trying to "close" it. There's talk of "reconciliation" and, from many white Australians, about how we "shouldn't be blamed" for the invasion, the dispossession, the genocide. The truth is that not a single one of these colonial actions has been resolved. Before we can fix anything, we need a treaty - not constitutional recognition - as soon as possible, one that legally instills complete self-determination and grants land rights. We need to stop this horrific legacy of paternalistic policymaking and give the First Nations back their agency.

Hockey Dad

Since we're just a couple groms from the coast, we really don't know much about politics. Although it's bullshit that Liberal has cut funding for Sounds Australia, as it is a massive blow for upcoming Aussie bands trying to head overseas and pursue a career in music. Also, we've heard they're cutting $54 billion from our health system, which we assume includes Medicare and hospitals, in order to fund and profit massive corporations. So if you get a chance, tell Liberal to get a dog up them, and put them dead last on the ballot paper.

Georgia Maq (Camp Cope)

So unless you live under a rock, our country is run by big money, the banks and the corporations. Labor and Liberal have started to remind me of Kang and Kodos Johnson, the two aliens from planet Rigel VII in the Simpsons, who invaded earth and demand people vote for one of them to be their leader. Like, two puppets with the same puppet master.

Anyway, but because most of us use the free public healthcare system and went to free public schools, I think voting is super important so we can keep both of them so everyone can have the same opportunities in life. Especially the young vote. We can kick these old jerks who can only seem to see as far as their nose, out for good. We have the power. Whatever you do, please vote and put Liberal last. We desperately need to save the public health care system.

Dave Novak (Polish Club)

There are many issues important to me that I have found aren't being given much attention, if any, by the two major parties. It's abhorrent that the fact we're putting refugees out of sight and out of mind while they self-immolate offshore isn't anywhere near being the key election issue. As someone raised by two immigrant parents, one of whom came by boat as a child, suffice to say I see the positives in being a bit more welcoming.

The fact that the Great Barrier Reef is all but dead, the fact that we're still arguing about the death of the NBN instead of actually improving our abysmal internet, the further pillaging of support for science and arts... All points that I rarely hear spoken of by the major parties, and when they are, I'm not impressed with what I hear. 

But above all this, the most important thing for me is that people figure out whose policies align with their beliefs and vote on that basis, regardless of the candidate's chances. With parties/candidates getting funding based on their vote count, there's no such thing as a wasted vote.


 Something that should be discussed and probably WON’T be discussed as there is a lot of business and emotional politics which keep it from ever being discussed by those in great power is the need to reduce animal consumption (not just meat but anything with an animal in it including non-edible products) in order to help mitigate climate change and the rapid decline of our environment. OTHERWISE, there’s also renewable energy and how that needs to happen ASAP. The abolition of animal agriculture is still the most important alongside overpopulation (of the earth in general, I’m not talking about immigration), though.

Caleb Karvountsiz (Tiny Little Houses)

Funny thing is I don't vote due to religious and moral reasons. I wouldn't want to be responsible for being involved in a political process which elects a government which puts our nation in conflict against my fellow brothers and sisters of another nation just because their governmental politics don't align with ours. I do understand government is necessary in some form and certainly applaud those who are involved in bringing important issues to the forefront of public consciousness especially in a time of career politicians and a visionless two party system. Although in my worldview politics is damaging to humanity's progress and I believe it divides people more then unites them. I know this may seem apathetic but I can assure you I'm deeply disturbed on a daily basis by what I see as wrong in the world and will do my best in my life to help in any small way I can. 

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Photo by Savannah Van Der Niet

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