Voting in Local Government elections in Australia is non compulsory and therefore I would strongly suggest that we turn our minds to allowing 16-year and 17-year-olds the vote in local council elections.
Apart from encouraging our young people to be part of the future planning of and managing our communities in which they live, it would also serve as an educational period for young people, allowing them to familiarise themselves and fully understand the Australian electoral process without fear of being penalised and may even encourage their parents who currently don't vote to vote. Lowering the voting age to 16 would clearly demonstrate to young people that we are listening to them, we care about their opinions, and are working for their future. After all elected Councillors are responsible for decision making in building communities for the future, therefore it would be fair to say young people should have some say in this.
Talking with many young people who would like to vote I understand they would make an informed choices, examining each candidate closely, but are not allowed. However some parents and many others eligible to vote (only about 33 per cent do) can just tick a few squares and be none the wiser of the decision they just made, which is unfortunate.
Let's never under rate the abilities and perceptions of our young 16-17-year-olds as there are so many examples of incredible achievement in all aspects of life.
Things a 16-year-old can legally do:
- Drive a motor car
- Fly an Aeroplane
- Enter Australian Armed Forces
- Pay taxes
- Leave home
- Legally have sex which implies the government deems you are old enough to become a parent.
It's hard to argue young people are not qualified or considered old enough to decide at local Council elections as to who makes policies that can greatly effect their life and the future of where they live.
Most 16-year-olds are just as wise and political aware as 18 year olds. To not be able to vote in Local Council Elections seems very old fashion and out of touch with modern advancements in the overall education and life skills of young people.
Light Regional Council Mayor Bill O'Brien