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Federal Children's Commissioner should examine lowering the voting age

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 4 Apr 2013

The Australian Greens are calling on the new federal Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell, to consult with young people and the community about the value of lowering the voting age in response to ANU research findings which advise against enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds.

Australian Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said, "Young people are by nature curious enthusiasts. Denying them the vote serves to diminish their engagement with politics and silence their voice on Australia's future".

"Denying young people the right to vote sends the wrong message that their views on democracy are cheap and cannot be trusted.

 "Australia is lagging behind on this issue and Professor Ian McAllister's research findings go against international trends.

"Just last month the Scottish government has presented legislation to allow 16 and 17 years olds a vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

"The British Labour Party is also actively considering including a lower voting age as part of its 2015 election manifesto.

"Various countries including East Timor and Indonesia set the voting age at 17 and others such as Austria, Argentina and Brazil have a minimum age of 16.

"History shows that the dubious arguments used against lowering the voting age were also employed to deny women and Aboriginals the vote.

"At sixteen young people can leave home, work, pay tax and join the defence force.

"A review of the issue by the new Children's Commissioner, prioritising the views and interests of young people, would kick-start the process of much needed reforms," Senator Rhiannon said.


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