Bill lowering voting age to 16 triggers alarm for Taxpayers’ Union

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 28, 2023 |

Labour’s Kieran McAnulty’s bill to reduce the voting age for local elections from 18 to 16 is back in the spotlight.

The Electoral (Lowering Voting Age for Local Elections and Polls) Legislation Bill was tabled with little fanfare in Parliament last week.

The bill is set to pass its first reading in Parliament tomorrow.

Introduced as a move to foster younger citizens’ participation, the bill would create a new class of voters, termed ‘youth electors.’

This would entail the registration of 16 and 17-year-olds on a separate youth electoral roll, enabling them to cast their votes in council elections.

Make It 16 campaign co-director Thomas Brocherie said earlier this month that “this Bill comes after years of sustained pressure from young people and calls from across the Local Government sector to lower the voting age, not to mention the Supreme Court’s declaration that a voting age of 18 is inconsistent with 16 and 17 year-olds fundamental rights.”

Despite the significance of such a constitutional shift, the bill has raised eyebrows from the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

The watchdog has voiced concerns over the seemingly expedited process, noting that such a paramount issue ought to be determined by a public referendum.

The Taxpayers’ Union said its stance isn’t based on the merit of lowering the voting age, but the manner in which the change is being introduced.

“Any alteration to the foundational principles of our democracy should be the prerogative of its people,” a representative stated.

The Union emphasised the importance of a comprehensive public debate followed by a referendum.

The lack of a written constitution in New Zealand, they argue, makes it all the more crucial to call out and combat these swift constitutional alterations.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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