Neutral on voting age

Lowering the voting age to 16? — Invercargill city councillors gave it a shrug.

In making a submission to a new Bill that could result in the voting age in New Zealand local body elections falling from 18 to 16, councillors have taken a neutral stance.

In November last year, the Supreme Court released a decision that made a declaration of inconsistency against the government relating to retaining the voting age for all elections at 18.

In August, the Minister for Local Government introduced the Electoral (Lowering the Voting Age For Local Elections and Polls) Legislation Bill.

At a council community wellbeing committee earlier this month, committee members voted on making a submission to the Bill.

Mayor Nobby Clark said the stance was taken for two reasons. Firstly, if it was to impact in 2028 there would need to be some education for young people on civics and local government issues.

Secondly, if the government was not prepared to try to lower the age for the national elections to 16, then it was "a bit rich to be asking us to do that".

Cr Darren Ludlow , who attended the previous week’s youth council meeting alongside Cr Alex Crackett and Cr Steve Broad, updated the council on its discussion of the issue.

"To be fair, you could’ve knocked us over with a feather because of their [youth councillors’] response, because our expectation was they’d have been wildly in support of it. But actually where they landed was, they supported council’s position."

Councillors opted to make an oral submission.

"The chances are they won’t come out to regions — we’ll have to go to Wellington — and it’s an awfully expensive and time-consuming trip to go there," Mr Clark said.

If enacted, the Bill would change the voting age for the 2028 council elections.