Youthful look for Greens in Page
SHE has just come of age to vote and now she wants your tick of approval.
Kudra Falla-Ricketts, 18, achieved headlines two years ago when as a high school student she penned a fake press release - branded with the logo of Metgasco - which declared the coal seam gas miner was ending its Northern Rivers gas operations and turning to solar energy instead.
Now Ms Falla-Ricketts is turning to politics with her endorsement as the Greens candidate for the Federal seat of Page today.
The marginal seat is currently held by Nationals MP Kevin Hogan and also being contested by former Page Labor MP Janelle Saffin, with the Greens a distant third force with about 6.5% of the primary vote at the last election.
The fresh-faced politician has her work cut out for her, but despite her age, Ms Falla-Ricketts has spent much of her high school life closely involved in the Greens and other environmental organisations lobbying for policy change in Canberra and Sydney.
For her, politics is the natural next step.
"I think that going straight into politics is a really good way to create the change from within," she said.
"I want to be a candidate who people can trust and see as someone who is in it because I'm passionate about the issues and care about the community.
"Because I'm a young person I don't have any vested interests. My party isn't sponsored by CSG companies.
"I think a lot of people are disengaged from politics because they see that their politicians don't care about them therefore why should they care about politics. If your politicians aren't listening to you, why should you be listening to them?
"So by breaking the mould and saying 'hey, I'm someone who cares, I'm in this for you', it can engage people who are a bit disengaged from politics in its current state.
Key to her platform for the election are three main issues: climate change, affordable housing and education.
She's against deregulation of universities and "$100,000 university degrees", wants to see negative gearing abolished to make housing more affordable, and is campaigning alongside her Greens cohorts for a full-scale response to climate change and embrace of renewable technologies.
She said despite widely publicised budget woes, a shift in priorities and some innovative thinking could free up government coffers to support education, housing and climate change strategies without kicking the less fortunate.
"If they're spending money on fighter jets ... and not taxing the rich, and not taxing the banks, and not taxing mining companies, and then they want to cut money from pensions ... youth allowance ... and TAFE ... (then) you're not cutting in the right place, and you're not getting your money from the right place," she said.
She also claims to be "a lot more mature than most of the politicians I see on television". But then again, Kudra has led no ordinary life. Her mother died when she was four and most of her primary school years were spent in Vanuatu where she attended school with local kids.
"You hear them on the television just fighting with each other over petty stuff. It's always Labor accusing Liberal of this and Liberal accusing Labor of that," she said.
"It's all these sound bites and these little memes on Facebook which take things out of proportion, because they're taking advantage of the fact that people haven't been in the debate listening.
"It's these petty fights which aren't actually about getting any change done, it's just about one-upping each other.
"And that is immature ... that's a waste of time and it's not what politicians are supposed to be doing.
"Instead of trying to pass policy, they're just trying to one-up each other and get more votes.
"They're not doing their job properly."