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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (17 April) . . Page.. 968 ..

MS REILLY (continuing):

Obviously, these people access services, too, such as health and education; but they do not all require the same services. Their children are of different ages; their health needs are different; their community service needs are different; and their planning requirements are different. What might be needed in a totally new area like Gungahlin is not what is needed in Weston Creek at this time, as we sort of dodder to middle age after over 20 years of operation. We do not all require the same services, and we do not want the same model for everyone. The use of an economic model for services where all aspects of a service are costed does not allow for the flexibility to respond to individual needs. We live in a society where we have computers which can tailor home loans, where politicians can send voters personally addressed letters which reflect their individual circumstances. But we claim not to be able to provide services which reflect the needs of the members of that community on an individual basis.

As I said before, the community services required in Weston Creek are not the same as those required in Gungahlin. In Weston Creek we have a community where people have been living for 20 or more years, in most cases. We have had a number of cuts in services over the years. We need more opportunity to discuss what is required now, as people start to retire. They are still living in Weston Creek; they are still active members of the community. We need to look at what those services are. I have enunciated my commitment to social justice principles and working for my electorate and for the ACT community. These principles encourage the development of an equitable, accessible and inclusive community. This is a better community and is something that we should all be striving for.


MS TUCKER (10.44): Mr Speaker, I present the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 1996.

Title read by Clerk.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

The purpose of this Bill is to lower the voting age in ACT elections from 18 to 16, with a three-year transitional period. Children or young adults under the age of 18 are the only group in our society who have no legal voting rights, apart from sentenced prisoners and psychiatric patients. The Greens believe that it is time this was challenged. Voting is a basic democratic right, and over time the notion of citizenship in relation to voting rights has gradually expanded. It was not until this century that women could vote in all States, and it was not until the 1960s that indigenous people could vote. It was in the 1970s that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. It is time for another debate about whom we include as citizens when it comes to voting.

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