Sarah Hanson-Young entered the Senate chamber for the first time Tuesday seeking a benchmark for same-sex equality and more youth engagement in politics.
The self-styled green Green replaces former Democrat senator Natasha Stott Despoja and comparisons with her are easy: both were elected in their mid-20s, representing South Australia and belong to a balance of power party. But Hanson-Young also found time to do some campaign work for Amnesty International between student politics and the real thing.
It might sound uncool, but Hanson-Young wants to get back to the notion of everybody having a fair go.
Everyone having the same rights, a benchmark that we can be proud of. That includes young people, older people, people in relationships and their children, people who aren’t in relationships and don’t have children, she told Sydney Star Observer.
We have such a vast and diverse community in Australia, and some people aren’t being heard. People turn to the gossip pages and the sport because politicians always seem to be banging on about the same things and don’t seem to get to the heart of the matter.
Consensus was unlikely she admitted, but a benchmark was achievable. A combination of experience and fresh ideas was also needed to combat that disengagement, she said, and as a young person she wanted to bridge the gap between young and old.
In six years’ time, when looking back I’d like to think I’d helped try to unify some of that, she said.
Hanson-Young may not get a full six-year term as speculation continues in Canberra circles that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may call a double-dissolution election to clean out the Coalition’s Senate dominance.
That could end up being quite good for the Greens, although the last election was pretty big and exhausting, Hanson-Young said.
Right now the senator is focused on making use of the superannuation inquiry to ensure the bill didn’t accidentally leave anyone out because it wasn’t clear enough and that all the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s recommendations are followed.
I’d like to think the Coalition will come to their senses and realise this is long overdue, she said. Nobody wants people to have to prove their relationship at a time when you’ve lost a loved one or are grieving for a family breakup.