Last Sunday was National Children’s Day. A day set aside to remember the importance of children in our country.
In his speech the New Zealand’s Children Commissioner, Andrew Becroft, said that New Zealand should consider lowering the voting age to 16.
The idea was first raised by the former MP, Sue Bradford in 2007 but it was not put forward to parliament. She raised the idea again in 2011 but an opinion poll in 2014 found that fewer than 7 percent of respondents agreed with allowing 16-year-olds to vote.
NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell said it was not a good idea to lower the voting age because people under 18 did not have a deep enough understanding of politics to make and informed decision.
We disagree with Mr Mitchell and think that lowering the voting age should be something that New Zealand looks at.
The reality is that anyone could point to the disadvantages, however, lets look at the positives.
Those aged 16 can vote in the Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey and Scotland. It is also set at age 17 in Indonesia, Korea, North Seychelles and Sudan.
Many opponents might point to younger voters not being interested in politics and therefore they wont vote. However, Scottish young people showed in the recent referendum that they do care by providing a 75% turn out. Clearly young people are interested.
Another benefit of 16 year old’s would be that it would force political parties to consider what young people want. Politicians would have to appeal to younger voters and develop policies that reflect younger people.
Currently, in our country we give plenty of responsibility to those aged 16. Here is a list of the things you can do if you are 16.
– you can sit a driving test and obtain your learner license.
– you can leave home without consent from your parents.
– you can get married.
– you can decide which parent you want to live with if your parents have split up.
– you can agree to, or refuse, medical treatment.
– you can leave school.
– you can work full-time, if you have left school.
– you can be expelled from school
– you can apply for certain benefits, such as the Youth Payment.
– you can apply for a firearms license.
– you can get an adult passport.
– you are allowed to fly a plane solo (if you have been learning to fly)
Clearly, we give those aged 16 plenty of responsibility. Now is the time to add the ability to vote to that list.
1. Should the voting age in New Zealand be set at 16?
2. What would be some of the negatives of lowering the voting age?
3. What issues would you like to see political parties provide policies on?