New Zealand govt reverses move to introduce bill to lower voting age
14 March, 2023, 8:06 am
(Reuters) – The New Zealand government backtracked on Monday on introducing legislation to lower the voting age to 16 in the country’s general elections, saying it does not have the required numbers for the bill to pass in parliament.
Any change in electoral law will require the support of 75% of parliament members and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said his government does not have that level of backing in parliament.
But Hipkins said he would introduce a bill to lower the voting age for local government elections as that would only require a regular majority in the parliament.
“Giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds is something that I do support and I’m happy to see progressed,” Hipkins said during a media conference.
New Zealand’s highest court in November ruled the country’s current voting age of 18 was discriminatory, saying it was inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights, which gives people a right to be free from age discrimination when they have reached 16. The case was brought by youth advocacy group Make It 16.
Jacinda Ardern, who was the prime minister then, had said the government would draft legislation to reduce the voting age, which could then be put to a vote in parliament. The Green Party offered its support but the main opposition National Party, said it would oppose it.
(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)