Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 811..
MR SESELJA (continuing):
eight kids would do very well under such a voting system and probably all sorts of demographic oddities would result from that. But I think it is reasonable that only those who qualify as what we consider to be adults have the vote. I do not expect that my kids will be getting the vote any time soon and nor would it be appropriate that they did. Nor would it be appropriate that I got extra votes as a result of having kids.
In preparing for this debate I looked at some of the figures. One interesting figure was that only 48 per cent of 18-year-olds are currently enrolled to vote. So I guess that goes to the question: are young people crying out for the right to vote? Well, 18-year-olds have the right to vote but less than half of them actually choose to exercise that right. So I guess the question is: do 16 and 17-year-olds want this? I think that is something that the committee will have to look at in this context.
I have to say I do not think it is without a measure of self-interest that the Greens have brought forward this proposal. I believe that in 2003 a Morgan poll showed that compared to the Greens' overall vote of about 71/2 per cent at the time, the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds who intended to vote for the Greens was 11.9 per cent. This was about 50 per cent higher than their overall vote. So I am sure that that must be part of this push by the Greens.
Mr Stanhope: You are a cynic.
MR SESELJA: I am a cynic but I think this must be part of the push by the Greens to lower the voting age. They see it as being in their electoral interests and I think that is a big part of why they are pushing it. There may be questions of principle but I think there is also a decent measure of self-interest. Of course, we have seen in recent years that the Greens have attracted a higher vote amongst groups of young people. I think there are various reasons for that. I think the Greens have probably done a fairly good marketing job. I think at times-
Mr Stefaniak: It's a con job.
MR SESELJA: Some would say that. But I think they have done a good marketing job in presenting themselves as the soft and cuddly Greens and perhaps not highlighting some of their more radical policies. I think those figures on the Greens' voting need to be taken into account in this debate. We need to consider whether this is just being pushed by the Greens so that they can increase their vote at the next election in the ACT.
I think this also comes down to responsibility. What are the qualifications for voting? Dr Foskey spoke about a certain level of maturity. She said that IQs are higher now and puberty starts earlier now. I think all of those considerations are valid. But it does come down to this: can undue influence be placed on people who are not ready to make serious decisions about who should be our elected representatives? I think it is also important to consider the implications that Mr Stanhope raised in relation to lowering the age of members.
We need to consider the issue of whether or not voting should be compulsory. I agree with Mr Stanhope that we should not have different classes of voters. Voting by 16 and 17-year-olds, if it were brought in, would have to be on a compulsory basis because the rest of the community is subject to compulsory voting. I am a supporter of compulsory