A whirlwind of a year: Jordon Steele-John

It’s been a whirlwind of a year since taking office – one in which we've campaigned on a number of important issues.

By Senator Jordon Steele-John

What an incredible whirlwind the past year has been! A year ago we found out that our dear friend Scott Ludlam would be representing us in the Senate no more. Scott set off a domino effect in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that we still haven’t seen the end of. 

For me, Scott’s resignation was (literally) a life-changing moment. I’d been involved in the Greens for years and a candidate for local, state and federal elections, but never had I expected that I would actually take office. Yet here I am!

Since embracing the challenge of being one of your Senators for WA, I’ve taken on the responsibility of the Youth and Disability Rights portfolios which suits me well as the youngest ever senator and the first to use a wheelchair. I’ve also inherited the Sustainable Cities and Digital Rights, NBN and IT portfolios from Scott. Just between friends, learning the ins and outs of encryption, copyright law and metadata retention has been interesting! 

A year of firsts

During my first sitting fortnight, Australia got the news that 62 percent of us had voted in favour of marriage equality, and our Parliament subsequently discussed (and passed!) an historic bill to legalise marriage for all couples. I was simply blown away to be able to vote yes, both in the postal survey and in the actual Senate, to marriage equality in Australia and be there for such an historic moment. The atmosphere in Canberra was absolutely electric! 

At the end of November, just before the Christmas break, I gave my first speech to the Australian Senate. Rather than do the same thing every single person does when they deliver a first speech and simply thank a laundry list of people, I decided to ask the people what they thought I should talk about; what issues mattered to them.

It was a huge success! More than 3,000 people responded to my call. As far as I’m aware I am the only politician to crowdsource their first speech to Parliament! 

Lowering the voting age

Although I have had many firsts in the past 12 months, there are none that I am more proud of than the introduction of my first bill.

In April – during Youth Week, no less – I announced that I would be introducing a bill to lower the voting age to 16 in Australia. It would give young people the voice they deserve in our Parliament and helping to fight back against the growing disenfranchisement and disenchantment we’re seeing amongst young people right across this country.

Since then, the Bill has been referred by the Senate to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. The inquiry received almost 100 submissions, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, and recently had its first hearing in Melbourne. I am so damn excited for the committee to report so that we can take the next steps towards legislating this important democratic reform. 


I would like to thank all of you for your support, encouragement and wisdom over these past 12 months. In particular, my family, who have been an absolute rock, and my staff – Trish, Elliot, Aimee, Penny and Tim – who have softened the learning process and made sure that our time has actually been productive both in Perth and Canberra. 

Looking forward

The next 12 months present some incredible challenges for all of us. If you know me at all, you will know that election campaigning is my lifeblood – but we have a huge a fight on our hands to keep our Senate seat here in WA for the Greens.

We’ve seen the rise of far-right parties over the past couple of years, and an ongoing push from conservatives inside the government as well – that means we could seriously be facing the prospect of the next federal election being fought on immigration.  

Our movement is dedicated to fighting for the needs of our community and building a better future for all of us – and we’ve proven time and again that we don’t need big corporate money to run big community campaigns. I can’t wait to get out there and campaign with all of you!