Home Uncategorized Call to lower voting age from Youth MP

Call to lower voting age from Youth MP

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New Zealand’s first Youth Parliament was held to mark 20 years since the voting age was lowered to 18. As this year’s Youth MPs prepare for the ninth Youth Parliament, Annabel McCarthy asks whether lowering the voting age once again would address democratic disengagement amongs the country’s youth.

Prior to the 1960s, voters in New Zealand had to be at least 21. An increasing student interest in politics propelled Parliament to reduce the voting age. Parliament did this in two steps, first lowering it to 20 in 1969, and then to 18 in 1974.

Twenty years later, in 1994, the first Youth Parliament was held in commemoration.

Each Parliamentary term, members of parliament select a young person, aged between 16 and 18, to represent them and their community as a Youth Member of Parliament.

During this time, Youth MPs take part in a mock bill debate, sit on various Select Committees, and ask Cabinet Ministers questions in a mock Question Time.

Labour MP and Minister Kris Faafoi attended the first Youth Parliament in 1994. He is one of only three Youth MPs who have then gone on to be elected into parliament.

For Faafoi, the experience removed the “mystique” of parliament and helped him get over a mental barrier when he first came to work as an MP.

He admitted the event only provided “an insight to a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of an MP’s life” but said it inspired him to want to have a go.

“You could see people that were similar to you doing the job,” he said.

“It’s a special working place, but it’s also a working place where, I think, we need normal people to be here and I’d consider myself, hopefully, as a relatively normal person.”

Following the success of the first Youth Parliament, Cabinet invited the then Minister of Youth Affairs, Roger McClay, to hold Youth Parliament on a regular basis.

Since then, Youth Parliament has evolved from a one-day educational event to a six-month long programme with dedicated full-time staff.

National MP Chris Bishop was selected as a Youth MP in 2000 and said his experience gave him “a taste of the bug for politics”. He still remembers the “real thrill” of sitting in the debating chamber and the “adrenaline rush” that came with talking to the media on the black and white tiles.

Interestingly, two issues that were addressed during Bishop’s tenure as a Youth MP were the decriminalisation of marijuana and euthanasia, both of which have surfaced again recently. 

“It’s just an indication that issues never really die, or they never go away,” Mr Bishop said .

One issue at the forefront of discussion among this year’s youth MPs is the voting age. 

Despite Youth Parliament’s connection to the voting age, many youth MPs are still not eligible to vote.

Molly Doyle, 17, is one Youth MP who wants this to change. She is part of a non-partisan campaign run by youth seeking to lower the voting age in New Zealand. “Our democracy is based on one person, one vote,” Molly said. 

“People who are 16 can work full-time, consent to sex, drive, and own guns. They should also be able to vote.”

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said lowering the voting age was not on the government’s agenda, the group was confident they could change people’s mind on the issue.

“The campaign will show how 16 and 17 year olds voting will strengthen our democracy. Scotland, Austria and many other countries already have the voting age at 16,” Molly said..

“Young people need a greater voice because the long-term issues facing New Zealand are most going to affect us.”

33 COMMENTS

  1. No way.
    If young people aged 18 and over, don’t want to vote, that’s up to them.
    Its just a fact of life that people get more into politics as they get older, or have a family etc.

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  2. A child speaks, like a child, of things it knows nothing of.

    For a moment there I thought it was the current Prime Minister speaking.

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  3. Kids supporting the growing of the socialist support base. Synical exploitation of the young and naive. What else would you expect from Labour and the Greens.

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    • Children playing silly games in the House who don’t even understand how far our flavour of democracy has moved a long way from one person, one vote. Everybody now has 2 votes with only one of those gained is full value. The other party vote is is progressively denigrated by a wonky algorithm. If this is an example of the thinking of these children there is no chance of lowering the voting age. Lol

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  4. Originally, common men only got the vote because of the draft. Not that long thereafter women got the vote for ‘free’ (no conscription for them).

    How about we return to that reason?

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  5. At age 17 years you can join NZ Army/Navy.. and be deployed overseas.
    If you are old enough to serve in NZ uniform and risk your life, then you should be able to vote.

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    • Maggie I’ll accept your comment about 17 year olds being able to risk their lives in uniform (I admit I thought it was 18 before they can go into combat) but fail to see how taking orders equates to being able to, with thoughtful consideration, elect a suitable government.

      Personally I’d raise the voting age to 25 and then only after earning the privilege by passing an examination proving thought and decision making was not too onerous.

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      • It’s the Government that decides to deploy our troops to danger zones. Why shouldn’t a Service person have the right to cast a vote for their Government?

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        • Maggy, it is my understanding (I’m certainly prepared to be corrected on this) that all personnel going into combat situations, in fact all personnel going overseas , are volunteers.

          Most I’ve talked to have requested such service.

          Until the current clowns once again resort to conscription, serving NZ overseas should not be a reason to be given the vote before people are mature enough to exercise it with genuine thought.

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          • Voting for only those who show maturity such as those who join the armed forces? A small portion I imagine compared to the majority who have no clue.

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            • Joining the Army is a bit like becoming a teacher. They do it because they can’t think of anything better to do. No qualification that makes them better thinkers.

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        • What buying a vote by joining up. Next, you will want to give the crims there vote back.
          Time you came home Maggy you mind is being warped by the thin air up North.

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          • That’s a shocking thing to think about your hard-working, independent ancestors, Viking.
            I am sure that cold, misty climates, impoverished soil and daily doses of Calvinism lead to much brain development.

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      • And I would prefer that no young person under 25 years of age risk their life in a combat zone wearing a NZ uniform.
        If we think it is acceptable that a young person of 17 years serves in our armed forces, why would we begrudge them the vote?
        If they are old enough to die for their country, they are old enough to vote for the Government that decides their fate.

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    • The armed forces have a strict hierarchy where age and experience is still recognised as imperative for competent leadership. There is a reason the young are not allowed to be put in charge.

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    • In that context, I agree with you. If you are old enough to die for your country you should have a say in who leads it.

      Should 17 be the age though?

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    • Irrational argument. Join the Army and start learning to survive and fight. Note I said start. Different to the old days where you were just cannon fodder. Not going far from NZ at 17.

      up until 69 you had to be 21 but could join the Army at 17.

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  6. The most important thing an individual can do in a democracy is VOTE. It is not drinking piss or copulating or driving a cheap Jap import. It is VOTING.
    To suggest that a person who is too immature to drink beer is sufficiently mature to vote is idiotic.
    And Maggy, the only 17 year olds in the navy who are deployed overseas are the ones who travel from Devonport to Motuihe.

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  7. Oh 16 and 17 year olds know all about life, you just need to ask them, they are full of it. They have great experience of life, of working, taking part in charities etc. I don’t know why most of them don’t leave home while they still know everything. Its simply ridiculous that the col is giving them the idea that they are the most important people in the world and listening to their unformed opinions. They should be worried about their studies and sport and having friends not in climate change etc.

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    • As said yesterday, why would you bother learning or doing anything if, because of climate change, the world is going to be devistated in less than 12 years?
      All yoof DO believe this bullshit don’t they?

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  8. The Principle of it can, of course, be argued, but cynically it is about Labour and the Greens expanding their catchment of voters.

    Conversely, it might galvanise the more conservative to come out and vote for the counternarrative to change.

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  9. It is time to discuss the right to vote

    We are long overdue have a long hard look at the right to vote. In this age of:
    – Parliament’s (and part of the populace) refusing to give effect to the will of the people (Brexit and NeverTrumpers)
    – the young in society are taking longer and longer to move from dependency to contributing to the social contract
    – widespread efforts to rort elections by shipping in illegal immigrants
    it is clear we need to have a “conversation” about voting rights.

    The old saying “No taxation without representation” still sounds good, but it is premised on the great social contract, where every member of society is presumed to want to be a contributing member to the social contract. It’s very clear that that premise no longer holds!

    In it’s place I think we need to have a ‘fairer’ approach, whereby those in society who have made net contributions to the social contract are alone allowed to vote.

    It’s clear from socialist Cindy’s “Its on meeeeeee!” shrill vote-buy to university students in 2017, that the left have moved from an approach of focussing on the “greater good”. They are now unashamedly only concerned going after the ever-increasing indigent vote (to the extent that they will increasingly turn to importing 3rd world indigents).

    Remove the ability of non-contributing indigents and you remove the incentive for throwing ever-greater welfare bribes at the indigent. Ironically, increasing the incentives for the indigent to get off their arse and what Ronald Reagan described as the best welfare programme ever – a job!

    In the same vein, I’d remove the perverse incentive to throw ever greater sums of wasted money at further education by raising the voting age to 21, with an over-ride that if you are a net-taxpayer at any age, you get to vote.

    That would be fair and it would preserve the ability to offer a welfare state and stave of the marxist left’s wet dream of the Cloward-Piven strategy.

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  10. Very little rips my undies more that the Yoof parliament. It is a colossal wank and a complete waste of my money. Nothing these jumped up little shits have to say should be taken seriously by anybody. The sooner the Nat’s say they will abolish the Yoof parliament the better.

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    • I’m indignant of increasing numbers who see becoming an MP as a career path straight from their school or tertiary education. Yoof parliament encourages too many to bypass getting some knocks and scrapes and gaining real world experience before assuming they are ready to impose their will on the rest of us.

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  11. “People who are 16 can work full-time, consent to sex, drive, and own guns. They should also be able to vote.”

    This is a base over apex argument.
    People who are 16 should be at school or in training.
    The age for full time work, sex, driving and guns should be higher for those things, not lower for voting.

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  12. I think someone like Annabel who is interested in politics enough to participate in the Youth Parliament is probably engaged enough to be OK to vote. But she represents a very , very small minority of that age group.
    At the current age limit a quite percentage of young do not bother to vote so why lower it for a few?

    BTW : I can see where Maggy is coming from and I’m tempted to say for those in the armed forces and sent overseas at 17 they should be able to vote , as an exemption, but where do you stop with exemptions? (ie. there are probably other examples that could “qualify” with a similar argument)

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    • I think someone like Annabel isn’t mature enough to realise that sitting the the debating chamber of NZ Parliament is not the same as jolly hockeysticks at the High School Debating Club.
      There, there Annabel sweetie, I’m sure your parents are very proud of you, not your country doesn’t need another SLG so come back when you know what you’re talking about.

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  13. Yes, amazing how they slipped that word in as well as mentioning that Chris Bishop was a young parliamentarian.
    All to provide a balanced article of course.

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