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Bradford launches Bill to lower voting age to 16

21 June 2007

Bradford launches Bill to lower voting age to 16

Green Party MP Sue Bradford has announced she will be putting forward a Bill - the Civics Education and Voting Age Bill - in the next Parliamentary private members ballot, to lower the voting age.

":The main effect of the Bill would be to lower the voting age to 16 - and this change would go hand in hand with making civics education a compulsory part of the national education curriculum.

"At sixteen, young people can get married, have children, and be taxed. If we are serious about trying to get young peoples' voices into the public arena and heard in places of power, they should be allowed to vote.

"I am delighted to be able to launch this Bill on the eve of the annual meeting of the Youth Parliament. It puts into effect what the Youth Parliament is all about.

" Proportionally, more 16 year olds are in school than 17 or 18 year olds. By simultaneously making civics education part of the compulsory education curriculum we can grasp a great opportunity to make personally relevant to young people everything we are trying to teach them in class about the Treaty of Waitangi, our constitutional law and conventions and the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen.

"Lowering the voting age and teaching them civics can help young New Zealanders get on track to being better informed, more engaged citizens. In that sense, my Bill is similar in intention to the successful 'Kids Voting' scheme running in Auckland schools since 2000, and launched in Hamilton this week, aimed at raising awareness among young people about New Zealand's electoral process.

"This is a move whose time has come. Earlier this month, Austria became the first country in Europe to lower the voting age to 16, and won wide support for the move from four out of five parliamentary parties in that country. Brazil has already made the same move.

"Lowering the voting age is consistent with the approach on my s59 Bill, which becomes law this week - and which I have always seen as being about the rights of children, in that case to grow up free from violence.

"This Bill is about taking young people seriously as citizens, and ensuring their voices are heard - and about us address from the outset the obligation that everyone has to be engaged and informed in the way that we make our political choices.

"I hope and expect to enjoy wide support from other parties for this move to include and engage our young people in the core mechanism of democracy," Ms Bradford says. For more information:

ENDS


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