Greens announce plan to empower young people on day of final Lowering Voting Age hearing

The Australian Greens

Monday, 18th June 2018

Australia's youngest ever Senator, Jordon Steele-john, has today announced the Greens plan to ensure young people are empowered to take part in our democracy, including giving 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote.

Senator Steele-John said the last five years of Coalition Government had sought to silence the voices of young people through systematic funding cuts to youth advocacy bodies and engagement initiatives.

"These important reforms are proof the Australian Greens movement is the only party committed to realising the rights of my generation, and ensuring young people have a voice in politics," he said.

"Under 35 year olds make up more than 40 per cent of our population yet just over 1 per cent of our Parliament.

"Our society treats 16 and 17 year olds as adults in so many ways yet politics ignores them almost completely. The major parties view the perceived disengagement of young people as politically convenient but what this approach is doing is turning a generation, who cares deeply about the future, away.

"16 and 17 year olds can legally work full-time and pay taxes, own and drive a car contributing to the maintenance of our roads and transport infrastructure, have sex and make medical decisions about their bodies. They can be tried as an adult by our justice system, join our Army, Navy or Air Force, legally sign a tenancy agreement or become part of a political party. Yet they can't vote.

"Today is the final hearing of a Senate Inquiry looking into my bill to lower the voting age and the response has been overwhelmingly positive from young people, academics and legal and constitutional experts - giving 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote will improve Australian demopcracy!

"The Greens will also reinstate funding for National Youth Week and the National Youth Peak Body, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, both of which were scrapped by successive Coalition budgets in 2014 and 2015.

"Finally, we would re-establish a Federal Minister for Youth to ensure that issues affecting young people are never again forgotten. Each year, more and more funding is slashed from youth engagement, education and support services without a Minister answerable to those funding cuts.

"It's clear from the lack of action on climate change, sustained political attacks from those in power on funding for, and access to, our tertiary institutions, and the fact that work has never been more insecure that only the Greens care about creating a future for all of us!"

The Greens' plan to empower young people:

  • Reinstate funding for National Youth Week;
  • Reinstate funding for the national youth peak body;
  • Establish a Federal Minister for Youth;
  • Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote; and
  • Make each voice count in the political process.
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