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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 812..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

voting. I do not think it is perfect but it is probably still the best system that there is. There are some drawbacks. People say it is not democratic to force people to vote but I see voting as a civic duty. I do not think we would want to split this obligation. I do not think we would want to say to 16 and 17-year-olds, "You can vote but you do not have to vote. However, once you are 18 you have to vote."I do not think that would be a good way to go and I would not support that.

I notice that the motion talks about 16 and 17-year-old Canberra residents. I am not sure if that is a deliberate wording or an inadvertent oversight. I would have thought we would be limiting it to citizens rather than residents. I think the present wording would expand the voting pool in a way that is not intended and I am not sure if that is what the Greens want.

Issues around the cost of having a separate electoral role are important but should not be defining. If the committee and both sides of politics were to find that this is a good thing, that the positives far outweigh the negatives, I think that is a cost we could certainly bear as a community. But I remain to be convinced that the serious issues about lowering the voting age can be overcome. Many people in the community will be watching this closely. I am cautiously watching it and certainly I and I think the Liberal Party remain to be convinced. But we will take a very close interest in these proceedings and how they fare.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.55): This has been a very interesting debate. It was worth putting up the motion just to hear what members had to say, and I am very encouraged. I will support the amendments. I am wondering how I can participate as fully as I would like to, and I would like to talk to the committee and the government about that.

I want to respond to some of the issues that have been raised today. There were some interesting questions and I have thought about some of them. If people are able to vote, will they be able to stand as candidates? It is up for the committee to explore this, but why not? A person will be elected only because the electors of the ACT have decided that that person should represent them. I do not think any of us believe that the people who voted for us were fools. And why not a 16-year-old Chief Minister? I will use the same argument: if the Assembly that is voted in by the electors of Canberra decides that a 16-year-old is wise enough, thoughtful enough and fair enough then that person should be Chief Minister. But these are questions to be pursued.

I felt that Mr Stanhope discussed these issues with a certain degree of flippancy. If it is in the Greens' self-interest to have 16 and 17-year-olds voting, is it then in the federal Liberal's self-interest to disenfranchise prisoners, for instance? I have to ask the ACT government how it is planning to ensure that prisoners in the ACT's new prison will be able to vote. We might have to consider separate lists or something for our own elections. If we can solve it for that group, we can solve it for the group we are now discussing.

Mr Stanhope: They are a finite group behind walls, Dr Foskey. It is easy. There will be 120 of them and we know where they are.

DR FOSKEY: Well, that is for the committee to explore. But if it can be done for one


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