Page 391 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022
be road rules, public transport concessions or tertiary study applications, there are inconsistencies across jurisdictions. I also note that New South Wales, South Australian and Victorian parliaments are all actively considering this very question of whether to extend voting rights for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Schools should be encouraged to provide students an understanding of the democratic system, how to critically analyse political statements and offerings, and how to ensure votes are valid. However, any encouragement or inducement to vote in a particular direction in a learning environment is not acceptable. I support the need for strong guidelines around electoral campaigning in schools. And we need to make sure these are in place to ensure this does not happen. But I note that in the ACT students in their final years are frequently aged 18 and older. There have been no reports of politicisation within school grounds, or adverse effects or experiences within ACT schools. This is despite there being existing student cohorts who already have the vote.
I do not support recommendation 2—the ACT government exploring ways to further engage young people in the democratic process—because, frankly, it is a substandard offer in lieu of the franchise.
Finally, I would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to respond to this inquiry. I would also like to thank my fellow committee members for their consideration of the bill. The inquiry process has demonstrated the value of committee inquiries into bills, enabling a wider range of community views to be heard, combined with presenting and testing evidence and viewpoints.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.28): I speak here because I was part of the committee when this committee started. I am no longer. Mr Cain took over from me. I speak as someone who has a personal interest in this and on behalf of the Liberal Party. I am very glad that this very flawed piece of legislation has been rejected by the committee. I support both the recommendations as I read them here—to not support the bill but also to further engage kids. I cannot understand why the Greens or other committee members—if the bill is rejected, as it should be—would not want to engage young members in our community and find other ways to do that.
I look forward to reading this report, but certainly the recommendations note—and the public submissions and the public hearings showed this—that what the two members of the Greens want to do is to force children to vote and to impose criminal penalties on them, if they do not, turning children into criminals if they do not vote. There are other jurisdictions that have younger people voting, but I am certainly not aware of any jurisdictions in the world that want to turn children into criminals if they do not vote. It is an extraordinary position of the Greens to want to do that.
Sixteen- to 17-year-olds already suffer an enormous amount of pressure at school as they are growing and developing. They are facing all the challenges of the HSC. I have a boy who is going to turn 16. I have children that have been through those teenage years. I have seen them; I have seen their friends. The last things they need are heightened levels of anxiety, more things to worry about, more opportunities for bullying. We certainly heard in the public hearings about more opportunity for bullying.