An MP is calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16 saying young people should be given a voice.
Green Party MP Sue Bradford is drafting a bill which, if passed, would lower the voting age by two years from the current 18.
"The main effect of the bill would be to lower the voting age to 16 -- and this change would go hand in hand with making civics education a compulsory part of the national education curriculum," Ms Bradford said.
"At 16, young people can get married, have children, and be taxed. If we are serious about trying to get young peoples' voices into the public arena and heard in places of power, they should be allowed to vote."
Ms Bradford said making civics education part of the compulsory education curriculum was a great opportunity.
"Lowering the voting age and teaching them civics can help young New Zealanders get on track to being better informed, more engaged citizens," she said.
New Zealand Association for Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) welcomed the move, but said it would come with an onus on young people to be responsible.
Executive officer Sarah Helm said: "This is a very exciting opportunity. Alongside the rights young people are given at 16, they should also be given increasing responsibilities that come with adulthood.
"We know from conversations with young people here, and from research overseas, young people take voting very seriously.
"Like most people, when young people feel like their opinions and views are being considered, they are more likely to feel like a valued member of society. That inclusion encourages young people to act more responsibly."
Ms Bradford said programmes like the Kids Voting scheme running in Auckland schools since 2000, and launched in Hamilton this week, were successful but should be taught in all schools.
"This is a move whose time has come. Earlier this month, Austria became the first country in Europe to lower the voting age to 16, and won wide support for the move from four out of five parliamentary parties in that country. Brazil has already made the same move," Ms Bradford said.
Ms Bradford's announcement was timed to coincide with the annual meeting of Youth Parliament in Wellington.
The bill -- Civics Education and Voting Age -- would be ready for the next ballot of members' bills.
- NZPA, NZHERALD STAFF