Australia's youngest senator is urging federal parliament to lower the voting age to 16, arguing politics is failing young people.
The Greens' Jordon Steele-John, 23, has introduced a bill to Senate which would give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote.
"It's time to lower the voting age to 16 in Australia and show young people that we hear them, we care about their opinions and we are working for their future," Senator Steele-John told parliament.
He said 16-year-olds could legally have sex, live independently, join political parties, work full-time and pay tax, but not vote.
"For far too long, politics has failed to properly represent young people or the issues they care about," Senator Steele-John said.
Under the plan, 16- and 17-year-olds would be able to vote but the compulsory voting age would remain at 18.
This is designed as a grace period for young people to let them familiarise themselves with the process without being penalised for not voting.
Liberal senator Amanda Stoker reeled off a list of existing programs to engage young people in democracy before outlining her case against changing the voting age.
"The evidence does not support the idea it would enhance participation by younger people," Senator Stoker, 35, said.
She said the government maintained 18 was the appropriate age for young people to vote in Australian elections.
Labor's Don Farrell, 64, said there were a range of issues with the plan which needed careful review by parliament's committee which deals with electoral matters.
But he said more needed to be done to engage young people in politics.
"All too often their voice falls on deaf ears," Senator Farrell said.
The plan would also allow people to vote on election day despite not having updated their details on the electoral roll.
"It's 2018 and we should have enough flexibility in our system to allow people to do so at a polling place, on polling day," Senator Steele-John said.
Australian Associated Press
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