28 Feb 2018

MPs urged to consider lowering voting age to 16

2:31 pm on 28 February 2018

The Children's Commissioner has urged MPs to consider lowering the voting age to 16.

A photo of a teenager from behind showing her back pack and a school yard in the back ground

Photo: 123RF

Judge Andrew Becroft said the number of young people engaging with democracy and voting was too low.

In the last election nearly 400,000 people below 29 did not vote - that's around half the amount of young people.

Mr Becroft told a Parliamentary Select Committee that New Zealand had done a poor job involving children in policy processes.

"We need to have the debate about allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.

"We were the first to give the women the vote, and we were told in 1893, they weren't sufficiently educated or participated to make informed decisions - exactly what we hear about children," he said.

Other countries like Scotland, Austria, Brazil and Argentina had already lowered the voting age, Mr Becroft said.

"One girl recently said to me, 'we should have two votes to your one, we're twice as invested in the future as you greying old guys'," Mr Becroft said.

"My first challenge is can we do better to have structured and organised ways to hear from children?"

Mr Becroft said he would also like to see Child Impact Statements as part of all pieces of legislation.

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