Monday, April 01, 2019

Democracy examined - lowering the voting age and cyber influence

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has today issued two reports. One is an inquiry into a bill that proposes to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote, and the second is an update report on the Committee’s oversight of the electoral system.

In its Advisory Report on the proposal to lower the voting age, the Committee acknowledges the contribution made by many young people to the inquiry, and their clear political engagement. However, the Committee ultimately concludes that, other than from a narrow cross-section of the community, there is insufficient evidence of support for lowering the voting age, and recommends that the Bill not be passed.

In its Status Report the Committee discusses its oversight activities of the Australian Electoral Commission. It also outlines key investigatory areas for the Electoral Matters Committee to consider after the next federal election. This includes the threats posed by disinformation and cyber manipulation to democracy.

‘Although the Committee’s Status Report outlines some of the challenges facing democratic processes, the Advisory Report is an example of how Australians are able to keep debating changes to the electoral system,’ said the Committee Chair, Senator James McGrath.

‘The Committee had a vigorous inquiry with many passionate witnesses, and this healthy debate strengthens Australian democracy.’