Frankston councillor Liam Hughes is keen to provide a voice for young people.
Liam Hughes says he’s not interested in generating headlines – but that’s not really an option given he’s the youngest person to be elected a councillor in Victoria. Liam was 18 when ratepayers chose him as one of three South Ward representatives on Frankston City Council last October. The former Frankston High School student – Class of 2020 – talks about what drove him to stand, what he hopes to achieve, and what it’s like having his dad with him at the council table.
What motivated you to stand for Frankston City Council?
I was out and about with my twin brother, Jerome, picking up rubbish. This is something we do regularly because it feels like the right thing to do. A passing stranger commented that he thought we were “doing more for Frankston” and mentioned the council, which got me thinking “Why not?”
What are the key issues you’d like the council to address?
The first is the fact that, year on year, residential and business rates go up with little explanation as to why. My goal is to improve the way we communicate how rates are invested to ensure ratepayers have a clear understanding of where their hard-earned dollars are going. The second thing is that there is a lack of youth representation in a council that is meant to represent the whole community. Our Youth Councillors do an awesome job and are very passionate about what they do. I want to support young people to have a voice in their community. Another issue is making Frankston a nicer place for visitors and longer-stay tourists to enjoy. First impressions last, so I’ll be working hard to improve the cleanliness of our streets, gateway entry points and open spaces.
How do you feel about making history? Do you feel an extra sense of responsibility to represent young people and their views?
I may be the youngest councillor in Victoria’s history, but I do not see it as something remarkable. My aim is not to make headlines but to represent Frankston City as a place where people love to live. I have heard stories of high schoolers getting excited after being told that a councillor was sworn into office at the age of 18. This is great to hear and I hope it gets them excited for local politics and shows them that their ideas can now be realised in council.
During your first speech at council you mentioned initiating a vegan or vegetarian festival. Why does this interest you?
Everyone thinks vegetarian food is sad, bland and lifeless. As a lifelong vegetarian I can tell you that it can be just as good as any meat dish – or so I’ve been told. I want Frankston to enjoy this way of life through a vegetarian food festival, an event that shares the health benefits of vegetarianism for your body and the planet.
What’s it like also having your father, Steven, elected as a current Frankston City councillor? Do you discuss council issues with him or prefer not to?
Like any family, we talk about everything and anything. Naturally we talk about council issues and we share our own generation’s views on the issues, but in the end it isn’t about what we think, it’s about what Frankston thinks. When I get into the council chambers I do not see him as my father; I see him like I see every other councillor – as someone I work with.