Editorials: Lowering voting age to 16 just one step to restore public trust in politics | Judith Bessant/The Age
Labor leader Bill Shorten announced he plans to reduce the voting age to 16 if elected. He offers three arguments for this.
One relates to consistency and fairness. If young people have the right and capacity to join the armed services, pay taxes or make their own choices about medical treatment, then why can’t they vote? His second argument is that the young are disengaged politically and from civic life generally. This seems to rely on the stereotype of narcissistic young people (the me generation) who are too self-absorbed to become responsible citizens. He also thinks lowering the voting age to 16 will help to “correct democracy’s participation problem”. Much of the criticism of this plan points to Shorten’s deficiencies. While Shorten is generally proving to be an ineffectual leader, his plan to lower the voting age to 16 should be supported. For a society to be considered democratic as many people as possible ought to be able to vote. There is an old ethical and democratic principle that says for any policy, law, or decision to be legitimate everyone affected by it ought to have a say about its adoption.