Greens propose to lower the ACT’s voting age to 16 | The Canberra Times

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Canberra teenagers would be able to vote in the next ACT election under new laws that will come before the Legislative Assembly. Legislation to lower the voting age to 16 will be introduced in the ACT’s parliament on Thursday by Greens crossbenchers Johnathan Davis and Andrew Braddock. The proposed law would make it compulsory for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in ACT elections but it would not apply to federal elections. “There are a number of things that as an Australian community that we’ve already decided we trust 16 and 17 year olds to do,” Mr Davis said. “Driving a motor vehicle, exercising their own medical decisions, enrolling in the military and learning to discharge a weapon, if we can trust 16 and 17 year olds with these responsibilities, surely we can trust them to take some time out to consider their values to compare candidates and number a few boxes once every four years.” Mr Braddock argued the age group, despite public sentiment, was one of the most affected by government decisions. “They’re probably one of the larger consumers of government services, whether it be through the public education system or the health system,” he said. “They’re usually the highest users of public transport, they’re getting drivers licenses or dealing with Access Canberra shopfronts very regularly. “They’re a large consumer of government services and also they’ve got a big stake in the future, they’re going to live with the decisions made in the Assembly for a long period of time.” Under the proposed laws, it would be compulsory for people aged 16 and 17 to vote. This is a change in position from the Greens, who previously pushed for voting to be voluntary for these ages. However, voluntary voting, in any form, would go against the Hare-Clark Entrenchment Act. Mr Davis said the matter was brought up with party members and they decided to support compulsory voting as it was deemed more important to enfranchise young voters. But the bill will propose lowering the fine for those who don’t vote to $10, it is currently $20. “We needed to have fines in place because otherwise that would just undermine compulsory voting and hence the constitutionality of the legislation,” Mr Braddock said. “We’re also aware that young people lack the financial means so we’re looking at a way to minimise that as much as possible.” The Greens have pushed for lowering the voting age across the nation and a bill from former MLA Kerry Tucker came before the Assembly in 1997. MORE A.C.T. POLITICS NEWS: However, its chances of success are higher this time due to fact the Greens are in a coalition government with Labor. Also, ACT Labor’s policy platform says the party would consider allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote, and the party has long supported voting being compulsory for all ages. The Canberra Liberals position is the voting age should remain 18. However, the bill will likely be referred to a committee where it will be heavily scrutinised. The ACT Electoral Commission has been against lowering the voting age, however, Mr Braddock said the commissioner had been consulted as part of the development of the bill. Earlier this year, ACT electoral commissioner Damian Cantwell told an inquiry into the 2020 election that significant legislative change would be needed to enable a change. The voting age would only change for ACT government elections, it would not apply to federal elections. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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