We thought you needed to know what is happening down in Wellington today. Jordan recently e-mailed to let you know that Kieran McAnulty was attempting to pass legislation to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years old for local elections. The Electoral (Lowering Voting Age for Local Elections and Polls) Legislation Bill was given only a few seconds of time for the title to be read out in Parliament and tabled.

The Bill establishes a new category of electors, named ‘youth electors’, and makes way for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to be registered on a youth electoral roll to vote in council elections. But where is the media’s coverage of this?

At a minimum, such an important constitutional issue should be the subject of a referendum. The bad news is the Bill looks set to pass its first reading tomorrow.

Given the number of responses we received following our recent email on this subject, we know our supporters we be equally concerned about this. 

Order Paper

If we do not make New Zealanders aware of what the Government is, yet again, trying to slip under the radar, this Bill will pass through remaining stages after the next election. Concerningly, post-election hype will likely mean that attention will shift away from this issue, making it easier for its advocates to quietly usher these changes through without fanfare nor scrutiny.

As proud promoters of democratic accountability, our position is not whether the lowering of the voting age is right or wrong, but rather that it represents such a significant change to our long-held democratic framework that it should be decided by the people – not politicians. We know our members hold very strong views on this and, at the very least, should be able to participate in a full and frank debate on the matter followed by a referendum. The significance of such a change cannot be underestimated.

Enter your humble Taxpayers’ Union.

Yesterday we placed a full-page advertisement in the Wellington Post bringing the matter of Mr McAnulty’s attempt to pass legislation to ‘lower the voting age’ to the wider public’s attention.

The Post Ad

Whether you agree with Mr McAnulty or not, we say that the voting age is one of the most fundamental decisions in a democratic society. Any changes should be decided through a referendum not sneaked through unnoticed or under urgency.

Without a written constitution there is little New Zealanders can do except to push back on this kind of slippery constitutional change by ensuring that this type of underhand activity is called out. 

We need to blow the whistle on what the Government is doing.

To coincide with the First Reading of the Electoral (Lowering Voting Age for Local Elections and Polls) Legislation Bill, we have managed to secure a last-minute deal for a nationwide advert in the New Zealand Herald.

But we need your help to make it happen.

We believe that the New Zealand public will be hopping mad when they find out what Labour is trying to do now. Our polling indicates that New Zealanders overwhelmingly want to retain the status quo, that is, leave the voting age alone. It is not as if the country has a shortage of pressing matters that need urgent attention! Even Labour’s own voter base hates the idea of reducing the voting age – that’s why we need to spread the word.Labour knows the public would never support this, that’s why they are trying to sneak this through by stealth. 

But with the media just not covering this story, the only way to ensure that these important decisions are left with the people and not self-interested politicians, is to ask for you to support this campaign.

Thank you for your support.

Callum Purves
Campaigns Manager
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union