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Kate Hawkesby: No, the voting age should not be lowered to16

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 May 2022, 7:14am
Photo / Chris Gorman
Photo / Chris Gorman

Kate Hawkesby: No, the voting age should not be lowered to16

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 May 2022, 7:14am

I note the Greens are back at it with their ‘lower the voting age’ routine. And by Greens, I mean Golriz Ghahraman.

She’s calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16. Here’s the problem with that – it’s never going to happen. It’s a waste of time and energy. Golriz says that, “16 to 17-year-olds are a very engaged group and have stood for what they believe in, which has been demonstrated by the school climate strikes. They can leave school, they can work, they pay taxem, but they don't have this one right. And it's just one vote."

So that’s her pitch, that’s her rationale. The thing is, those of us who’ve had 16 year olds, who’ve raised them and watch them grow up, know, that 16 and even 17, is still very young. It doesn’t sound young if you’ve got babies or toddlers right now, to those parents 16 does sound grown up, but take it from parents who’ve raised teenagers, there’s a lot 16 years olds don’t know and don’t understand.

Oh they’ve got opinions alright, and they know how to strike, and they know how to make their voices heard, and don’t get me wrong, many are intelligent and informed and well educated and aware of how the world works.

But they lack the experience. They don’t have mortgages and hold down full time jobs by and large. They’re not raising families, they’re not paying bills, they’re not awash with life experience. Yes many may be bright and astute, but many are not. Many as we know, are just out ram raiding, or wagging school. And on that note, surely the priority for young people should be re-engaging them with school and teaching them how to contribute to a civilised society, over and above giving them the right to vote? 

The numbers of young people not attending school is up, we have problems with literacy, and as many Police will tell you, issues with respect from youth who don’t even know how to be a part of a civilised society, far less make an educated vote on it.

The Make it 16 crowd argue for more civics to be taught in school and that in doing so, it will help educate young people more, thus enabling them to make more informed votes. My argument would be let’s try to get those 16 year olds back in school, for a start.

With more and more of them not even attending, how does changing the curriculum help? And how do you teach civics in a way that’s independent of unconscious or even conscious political bias? Anyone with kids at High School or Uni these days knows there’s so much bias in what’s taught, that it’d be very hard to find any High School civics without bias clouding it.

Ghahraman argues a lower voting age would increase voter turnout. I’m not sure how she reaches that conclusion with a major problem facing this country right now being the number of 16 years olds not even turning up for school.

So, they’re not happy to attend school, but they’re more than happy to turn out to vote? It feels a bit cart before horse to me.