Cr Paul Tully, who has called on the State Government to amend the Local Government Electoral Act.
Cr Paul Tully, who has called on the State Government to amend the Local Government Electoral Act. Sarah Harvey

Time to give 16-year-olds the vote, says Ipswich councillor

THE AGE of voting should be reduced to 16 according to Cr Paul Tully, who has called on the State Government to amend the Local Government Electoral Act.

The current legal voting age is 18, but in his Local Government Electoral Act Review submission Cr Tully argued that "16-year-olds clearly have the intelligence, maturity and interest to participate in the voting process".

"Many of them are in the work force," Cr Tully said.

"They can hold a learner's permit at 16 and clearly they are affected by council decisions over which they have no control."

In his submission Cr Tully argued that up until 1974, when the Queensland Age of Majority Act reduced the voting age from 21 to 18, it had been said 18-year-olds lacked the responsibility and maturity to vote.

But Ipswich MP Ian Berry said the voting age should remain at 18.

"We are asking teenagers to have a lot of responsibilities already and I don't think 16 is old enough to be able to understand the issues," he said.

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"We'd be happy to reconsider that in the future... but 16 is far too young and I think 98% of electors would feel the same thing. I don't know what Paul Tully was thinking about when he was 16, but I had a lot of things on my mind and politics certainly wasn't one."

Ipswich mum Sitina Lunt has six children up to the age of 14 and said there was merit in Cr Tully's submission

She said young people "have a voice, and their voice matters".

"They know a lot and have their opinions, and they should be heard too," she said.

"They are into social media and they understand a lot. They don't have full context, because they are still young.

"But years ago women didn't have a right to vote and black people didn't have a right to vote. Young people's opinions are just as valid. They are not as ignorant as you might think."

Cr Tully said the young people of Queensland were "our future and the earlier we engage them in the democratic process the better".

"Many 16-year-olds are still at school and this legislative measure would enable them to learn about our system of government in a school environment - and put that knowledge into practice."

Cr Tully said the process of reducing the voting age to 16 had begun around the world, including the US.


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