Former Labor leader Mark Latham says if he was 17 years old right now he would not join a political party.
He just wouldn’t be interested, he said.
Speaking at the Campbelltown chamber of commerce monthly meeting last night at Tabcorp Menangle, Mr Latham lamented the decline in interest for politics among young people aged between 17 and 25.
“There’s 400,000 of them who have never registered to vote, because they cottoned on to the fact that you cannot be fined for not voting if you are not on the roll,’’ Mr Latham told more than 70 chamber members who attended the meeting.
“There is just no trust in the system and the possible solutions are the introduction of voluntary voting, which would force politicians to produce policy instead of gimmicks for the media, and community based campaigns.’’
Mr Latham, who served 11 years as the federal member for the grand old Labor seat of Werriwa, and was Labor Leader until being defeated by John Howard at the 2004 election, has just written another book, his ninth.
In The Political Bubble Latham spells out in detail why the political system is in crisis and trust in politicians has all but evaporated.
He told the chamber that the book also offers solutions to this political malaise.
“Local people like yourselves ought to get behind mainstream issues like the Badgerys Creek airport because that’s one way to start restoring faith in the system.
“Politicians, the government, they don’t have any solutions to the great issues of our time like climate change and poverty, so no wonder there’s no trust.
“It’s a Catch-22 situation, but my book offers solutions,’’ Mr Latham said.
“And then you have some weird coalitions like the Greens and people like Alan Jones pushing fringe issues like coal seam gas. The chief scientist has made it clear that with the proper safeguards coal seam gas is OK and yet they have hijacked the debate.’’
“An airport at Badgerys Creek could start the ball rolling on such an issue, so you need to get behind it.
“And when it comes to roads in Sydney, they still have got it all wrong, by designing roads that lead everyone towards the city of Sydney, when people now cross travel, so what you need is road links between Campbelltown and Blacktown, Parramatta to Liverpool, that sort of thing.
“But the powers to be still persist with building roads that always finish off in Sydney. It’s just wrong.’’
Mr Latham got a big cheer when he suggested the solution to the traffic problems between Camden and Campbelltown did not lie in widening Narellan Road.
“What’s clearly needed is a second link between Campbelltown and Camden.’’