22 Nov 2022

National says no 'logic' in lowering voting age from 18 to 16

10:21 am on 22 November 2022
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National Party justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The National Party says it does not believe the voting age in New Zealand should be lowered.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declared the voting age of 18 inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since voiced her support for lowering the voting age to 16.

She said legislation would be drafted for making the voting age 16 after the finding of the Supreme Court, but whether it passes as a matter for the whole Parliament.

National Party justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith told Morning Report there were restrictions for a reason.

"You've got to draw the line somewhere and 18 [years] has been appropriate. We think it works well.

"I'm puzzled that there's a justice system which treats 16- and 17-year-olds very differently, often on human rights grounds, thinks it's discriminatory to not have the vote so the logic doesn't quite follow."

Goldsmith said the party was yet to see a strong case supporting the lower voting age.

"I just don't think it's the kind of burning platform that needs to be resolved quickly."

He said the prime minister should focus on issues like youth crime rather than the voting age.

Justice Minister Kiri Allan told Morning Report the New Zealand courts system did not have a reputation of being political in determining the law.

Parliament now has to consider a law change, but National and ACT have said they would strike it down, and that the Supreme Court was going too far.

Allan said it was important not to taint the courts with a tarred brush that they are somehow political in their decision making. She personally supported lowering the voting age to 16.

She said Parliament would provide a formal response after examining the Supreme Court's findings through a Select Committee process.

"Let's hear from New Zealanders on this topic," she said, given that the voting age was last changed in 1974.

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