Page 389 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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MR CAIN: Scrutiny Report No. 13 contains the committee’s comments on four bills, 31 pieces of subordinate legislation, proposed government and private members’ amendments to one bill, and two government responses. The report was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting.

I commend the report to the Assembly.

Report 4

MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (11.19): Pursuant to standing order 254C, I present:

Justice and Community Safety—Standing Committee—Report 4—Inquiry into the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021, dated 16 February 2022, including a dissenting report (Mr Braddock), together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings—

I move:

That the report be noted.

This is the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety. The Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 was presented on 2 December and proposes to lower the voting age to 16 years for ACT elections. The committee received 18 written submissions and conducted an online survey to enable a more accessible means for people to participate in the inquiry, and 438 people completed the survey.

A major theme during the inquiry was the fact that the bill would require young people, aged 16 and 17 years, to vote in ACT elections and impose offences and penalties for non-compliance. The committee did not support the bill, and instead recommended that the ACT government explore alternative ways to further engage young people in the democratic process.

On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this inquiry, particularly those from the community professional associations. I would like to thank the other members of the committee, Dr Paterson and Mr Braddock. I offer a special note of thanks to the previous chair of this committee, who was chair during the majority of this inquiry, Mr Jeremy Hanson. I especially thank the secretariat, going through a few pairs of hands in this case—Ms Brianna McGill, then Ms Julia Agostino, and Dr David Monk and Ms Miona Ikeda, who are currently supporting us extremely well. I commend the report to the committee.

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (11.21): I do not agree with the committee’s conclusion against the bill, on the basis that there was no substantive or empirical evidence to support the assessment of, and potential impact on, the mental health and wellbeing of young people. There was also no reason to believe the positive benefits extensively documented by overseas jurisdictions that have extended voting rights would be negated by compulsory voting in our jurisdiction. No evidence was presented to support the argument that it would not automatically translate.

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