Voting power fails to win teen preference
By Leonie Brann
Kyle Thompson thinks he would have stuffed up if he had the right to vote at 16.
The 18-year-old Ballina High student believes plans to drop the voting age in NSW from 18 to 16, with compulsory voting to start at 18, would not be greeted with enthusiasm by most teens.
"I'll have to vote now, and I feel confident voting because I know more about the way things work," Kyle said.
"But I would not have felt good voting when I was 16, because I was not mature enough," 18-year-old Kyle said.
Greens MLC, Ian Cohen, introduced a Private Members Bill into NSW Parliament this week to drop the voting age from 18 to 16, with compulsory voting starting at 18.
Mr Cohen said lowering the voting age in NSW would force law makers to stop scapegoating young people for society's problems and would force law makers to listen to youth about issues that affect them.
"With their access to different forms of information and better communication skills, the teenagers of today are better informed civic citizens than the teens of about 20 years ago," Mr Cohen said.
"The fact someone is young does not mean they will make a less informed vote than someone older."
Kyle's fellow student leader, Matthew Cork, agreed voting should be left to the adults.
Matthew, 16, of Lennox Head, said if approved most teenagers would only vote if the issue concerned them.
"For example with the Pplate law changes, some teenagers would vote against it if they could, even if it was not best for the whole community," Matthew said.
Mr Cohen said the community had its chance to get behind the Bill as it would be next debated during the spring session of parliament.