When speaking to Wyatt Roy, Federal Member for Longman and Assistant Minister for Innovation, there’s an elephant in the room: his age.
At 25, Wyatt is the youngest ever MP elected to parliament, and the youngest ever minister, which is quite an impressive résumé for a millennial. He doesn’t come from a political lineage either, having grown up on a strawberry farm north of Brisbane.
As expected, much has been made of his age in the five years Wyatt has been in Parliament. However, in a building where the average age is 51, his youth is refreshing, especially given the stereotype of Gen Ys being uninterested in politics and current affairs—something Wyatt disputes.
“I think it’s a stereotype that actually misses the real story. Our generation has grown up in a world where we are completely inundated with information, and we consume information in vastly different ways to generations before us. I think what this has led to is an environment where young people are not uninterested in policy, but rather they are completely inundated with information about it, and I think they feel let down. I think they feel disenfranchised from a political system that has responded to a changing world by resorting to populism, a political system that resorts to partisanship, a political system that dumbs down the conversation.
I think young people have a very finely tuned antenna to a politician who is giving them a political line and not talking to them like the intelligent people that they are. And I can tell you, my best mates are not interested in politics at all; they think my job is hilarious. But they do know a lot about the world."
"They know how much it costs to catch a train to go into the city, or how difficult it is to find a job. They are very engaged in that conversation, but that doesn’t mean they are going to rock up to a boring political branch meeting and engage in the way that our parents or grandparents did. It’s just a different style of engagement.”