Greens call to lower voting age in inquiry submission

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THE ACT Greens would like to see the voting age lowered to 16 or 17 in Canberra, according to the party’s submission to the Inquiry into 2020 ACT Election and the Electoral Act.

ACT Greens spokesperson for young people Johnathan Davis says many young people are quite engaged in politics and deserve to have a say about their future. 

“Why should young people, who otherwise can legally work full-time, pay taxes, drive, make medical decisions about their own bodies, have sex, join the Defence forces and join a political party, not have the opportunity to vote?” he says. 

“Young people will inherit the effects of decisions made in government today and we should not only empower them to have a real voice, but also listen to what they are saying.”

But, a change to the voting age is something that the Canberra Liberals do not want to see.

To defend their view, the Canberra Liberals’ submission pointed to a paper produced by Prof Ian McAllister from the Australian National University in 2012, which found that “there is no evidence that lowering the voting age would increase political participation; indeed, the evidence points in the opposite direction”.

ACT Labor has not formed a view on whether or not to lower the voting age.

However, in Labor’s submission, the party said they would support the inquiry investigating whether voters who are taken to court are more likely to vote in the future, or whether this action does not result in any change in behaviour.

The ACT Greens submission also made recommendations, including banning, or defining spaces for, roadside election signage, appointing an independent fact-checker for the 2024 election, and capping electoral donations or gifts at $10,000 per financial year for all individuals, corporations or associated entities.

The position on road side election signage has been divided between all three major parties in the ACT, with ACT Labor suggesting a reduction to corflutes, but ultimately opposed to a ban on corflutes, and the Canberra Liberals were against any changes to corflutes.

“Given the limited engagement with local media by Canberrans, roadside signage continues to be an important opportunity for political parties and, in particular, local candidates to build a profile,” the Canberra Liberals submission said.

“In those circumstances the Liberal Party in the ACT does not see a reason to change the current arrangements.”

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