Lowering voting age should follow pension change

If the Rudd Government is to change the pension age from 65 to 67, it should also review other critical age limits, CLA’s Raffaele Piccolo says. In particular, the voting age should drop to 17 (from 18) for today’s better educated, better informed and better connected young Australians.

MEDIA RELEASE  

May 2009

Rudd urged to re-think age, lower as well as higher

Just as the Federal Government lifts the retirement age to 67 to keep more people in the workforce, it is being called on to lower the voting age to 17.

Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) South Australian spokesperson Mr Raffaele Piccolo has called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to acknowledge that many young Australians are aiding the economic recovery effort by joining the workforce.

“More and more young people are entering the workforce, balancing work, school, family, friends and other commitments,” Mr Piccolo said.

“Young Australians, who will be the vital and active participants in Australia’s economic recovery in the future, are largely unheard, even though they are better educated and better connected with instant communications – they have much more of a world view now than 50 or 100 years ago.

“If the Prime Minister is thinking seriously about age issues, he should give younger Australians a political voice.  They should certainly be able to vote at 17,” Mr Piccolo said.

He said voting age for local government elections should be 16, and for state and federal elections 17.

“Young people these days are a lot more informed about the world they live in because of their ability to access information instantaneously. Reducing the voting age by a year would also mean those students undertaking civics education at school could put into practice what they are being taught.

“It seems to be pretty obvious that the sooner young people are actively engaged with our political process, the more likely they are to remain active. More involvement of young people could help reverse the trend to high levels of dissatisfaction with our political system amongst younger voters at present.”

Mr Piccolo said changing the pension age could be the catalyst to review other age-based restrictions. “All tiers of government, and regulatory bodies, should look at whether current age restrictions are appropriate,” he said.

For media comment please contact Raffaele Piccolo.
Released by:  Civil Liberties Australia A04043 Box 7438 Fisher ACT 2611
Bill Rowlings

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