Australia

Australia's youngest senator pushes to drop voting age to 16

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Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, 23, plans to introduce a bill to lower the voting age to 16 when federal parliament returns.

A bill to lower the voting age to 16 will be introduced to federal parliament by Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John.

It would allow almost 600,000 Australians aged 16 and 17 to engage in the democratic process, the West Australian senator told reporters in Perth on Monday.

The compulsory voting age would remain 18, Senator Steele-John said.

The 23-year-old said research showed the youth split their votes "pretty evenly" between the Greens, Labor and Liberal, and he urged fellow parliamentarians to support the bill.

"The Greens are of one voice, obviously, on this matter but Labor has also indicated in the past that they would be interested in seeing this reform come to fruition," he said.

The senator said the overwhelming number of teens he'd spoken to backed the idea.

"A couple of them who didn't think that 16 and 17 years olds should have the right to vote, in my mind, made the case that they should through the elements of their arguments," he said.

Some of the conversations I've had in classrooms ... have beaten the crap out of some of the discourse in Canberra.

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John

"Quite frankly, some of the conversations I've had in classrooms across WA have beaten the crap out of some of the discourse in Canberra."

Australian Youth Affairs Coalition chair Katie Acheson said young people were articulate about their political views.

"What we're going to do is energise Australian politics," she said.

Harry Sulley, 15, said he was particularly concerned about the threat of nuclear armament.

Scotland, Norway and Nicaragua are among countries that have lowered the voting age to 16.

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