One of the largest generations in Australia, comprising more than a quarter of all voters and around a third of the workforce is Generation X. Born from 1965 to 1979, the Xers are aged from their late thirties to their mid-fifties and are in their mid-careers, mid-family years and mid-life. And now, after quite a wait, Generation X have one of their own as Prime Minister.
Scott Morrison (born 1968) is the first post-Baby Boomer to be an Australian PM. We have had a run of four Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) in Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. Before that, Australia had four of the Builders Generation in the Lodge (born 1925 to 1945) in John Howard, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, and Malcolm Fraser.
Australia joins countries like Canada, with Justin Trudeau and France, with Emmanuel Macron, in having a Gen Xer at the helm. New Zealand though, have taken generational change to a new level by putting a Gen Y in charge (Jacinda Ardern was born 1980).
This is the generation that grew up under Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke and with Ronald Reagan in the Whitehouse and Margaret Thatcher as the British Prime Minister. They are the original computer generation, shaped in the audio cassette era, using the first VCR’s, watching Hey Hey Its Saturday and the early days of MTV, and perhaps wearing marble wash jeans, hyper colour t-shirts and the occasional turtle neck knit. They were tuned into the hype of Halley’s Comet, impacted by the 1987 stock market crash and the resulting “recession we had to have” and witnessed in real-time the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it, communism in Europe.
Having lived their formative years in the 20th Century and most of their adult years in the 21st, this generation are a unique hybrid of traditional, structural, and analogue approaches combined with the adaptive, collaborative and digital thinking of today. They were shaped in a hierarchical world but lead with a more participative style.
Education for them was conducted with pen and paper and required closed book exams yet now they interact on touch-screen devices and live in an “open book” world- just a few clicks away from any information on the planet. Their world began when Australia still looked to England but amidst several decades of cultural change and migration growth they now see our strong connections to Asia and have a global outlook.
Their parents were shaped in the post-World War II years while their children, Generation Z have been shaped in an era of smartphones, social media and the gig economy. And in addition to all this, they have produced the first Prime Minister of the Commodore 64 using, Nirvana listening, Walkman wearing, Ferris Bueller watching generation!