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Senator Steele-John kicks off historic debate on bill to lower the voting age to 16

Media Release
Jordon Steele-John 21 Jun 2018

Thursday, 21st June 2018

Australian Greens Youth spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John has delivered his second reading speech on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lower the Voting Age and Improve Democratic Participation) Bill 2018.

Senator Steele-John's speech will kick off debate on the issue of whether 16 and 17 year olds have a right to vote for the first time in Australian history.

“This is a simple bill with very simple intentions. 16 and 17 year olds can work and pay tax, own and drive a car, have sex, join a political party and join our defence forces. They have a right to be able to vote,” Senator Steele-John said.

"There are almost 600,000 16 and 17 year olds who our society deems to be adults, yet does not allow to participate in the decisions being made about the future. 

"There is strong evidence from other jurisdictions - Scotland and Austria in particular - that lowering the voting age to 16 improves not only the engagement of young people, but encourages better voting habits and democratic literacy.

“Labor leader Bill Shorten pledged to introduce legislation in 2015 to lower the voting age, exactly what my bill is trying to do, and I am hopeful they will come on board and support the intent of my bill.

“If a committee inquiry is what it takes for Labor and the Crossbench to support it then I am happy to take that route. I am committed to working with all sides of this chamber to achieve this important democratic reform in Australia.

“My generation will have to live with the consequences of the decisions made in this place for the longest time. 16 and 17 year olds have a right to vote on who those decision makers are."

A copy of the Senator's speech can be found here:

Media contact:
Tim Oliver – 0448 316 387

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