Lang, 23, NT

“I wish the government knew that today’s problems are created by yesterday’s solutions. When the government wants to deal with the problem of welfare abuse I want them to remember that welfare was created to help those worst off in our society. When the government writes a law to exclude itself from refugee protections, I want us to remember that in World War II we failed to provide protection to those fleeing, and refugee protections were put in place to avoid making that mistake again. At the most basic level, I want the government to acknowledge and recognise the history of the issues they face and to think longer term.

Politics makes history relevant as it changes what solutions we propose and what we see as problems. A failure to make honest acknowledgements of our history leads to dishonest solutions. The worst example of this has been Aboriginal justice. Failure to recognise that we took stole land and then built a system that discriminated against Aboriginal people leads many Australians to the conclusion that Aboriginal problems are self-inflicted and that we should not spend resources on these difficult problems. Governments cannot continue to fall into the same traps if we want fair and effective policy solutions.

So when the government, be it state, territory, or national, considers any problem or issue whether it be education, climate change, or another issue of the day, I wish that they honestly acknowledge, recognise, and take the history behind these issues into account.”