JSCEM 2022 election report released


The federal parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters yesterday released their report into the 2022 federal election.

I won’t try to summarise every point covered – the report covers matters to do with election funding and Indigenous enrolment.

But I wanted to mention a few points that I have touched on during this process, through this website, in my submission and when I attended a hearing of the committee.

  • The committee recommends an expansion of the number of senators representing the territories to four each, with all four elected for a three-year term at every election. This was something I supported in my testimony.
  • The committee was also positive towards expanding the number of seats in parliament more generally, but the specific recommendation is to hold a further inquiry into the topic.
  • The committee doesn’t make any recommendations about introducing proportional representation in the House of Representatives, but does consider the issue and presents the arguments in favour of such a change.
  • The committee recommends that postal vote applications can only be sent back directly to the AEC (not via parties) and can’t be sent out with other election materials.
  • The committee also quoted myself in discussing the possibility of lowering the voting age to 16.

We’ll now need to wait and see how much of this stuff is taken up by the government in the form of legislation. A broad expansion of the parliament will need to wait for the next term of parliament – an expansion would trigger redistributions in at least five mainland states, and it’s too late to pull that off before the next election.

It is plausible that expanded territory Senate representation could happen before an election – it wouldn’t have any knock-on effects on the electoral administration beyond seeking nominations for four seats in each state, and electing a larger number of senators. And there are numerous other recommendations that could take place in time for a 2025 election.

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  1. @yoh an most venues class a child as 12 and under so maybe we lower to 13? in the eyes of the law you are an adult at 18. if you commit a crime at 16 you dont go to adult jail you go to jeuvenille detention

  2. As Ben indicated, there is no one age where somebody is “officially” an adult, as different elements of adulthood are incremental:
    – Gain the right to work and pay taxes at 15
    – Gain the right to leave school and work full time at 15 or 16
    – Gain the right to learn to drive at 16
    – Gain the right to consent to sex at 16
    – Gain the right to apply for the ADF at 16 & 6 months
    – Gain the right to drive a potentially deadly vehicle unsupervised at 17 (except VIC)
    – Able to officially join the ADF at 17

    I think in terms of adulthood, maturity and independence, they’re all just as (if not more) important as drinking, gambling and entering nightclubs at 18, and no doubt more relevant to being able to cast a responsible vote.

  3. personally im of the belief that the states should get an additional 2 senators as well. this would increase the house by an additional 24 members as well. and given its been close to 40 years since the last increase as members to be represented has almost doubled. though as ben states this will need to be done by the next parliament due to time constraints on redistributing at least 5 states

  4. Yeah, but not for everything Yoh An, and other parts of the world don’t consider you an adult for some things until you are 21 (see legal limit for drinking in some US states). Just because you are classified as an adult for some things doesn’t mean you should for everything.

    Not saying everyone is wrong, but I don’t think the arguments for it are very strong, for reasons I have given.

  5. Anything that is done can always be undone. Unless you have the will of the people on your side things like this should be left alone fortunattin NZ things like this can only be altered with a 75% vote of parliament as the NZ govt wanted to do it as well.

  6. I don’t think most people outside the US agree with their drinking age, and if you know the history of that it’s actually not related to maturity or adulthood, but rather the road toll.

    In the 80s there was no federal drinking age (states varied between 18-21), but a high road toll among young drivers.

    So, rather than take sensible measures like 0.0% limit for your first few years with a licence, lowering the limit altogether (theirs is 0.08%), or conducting random breath testing which for ridiculous reasons they think infringes on their apparent “freedom”, Reagan as President at the time just made 21 the national drinking age as his solution.

    Easier to take away everyone’s right to drink, than it is to build a society where young people aren’t so dependent on driving, apparently.

  7. @Mostly Labor Voter

    No. I’m not even advocating for a reduction in the voting age. I’m referring to some comments in this thread that have:
    – alluded to restricting some groups from voting who are currently able to vote, and,
    – approached the issue of lowering the voting age with arguments that could equally be applied to adults currently eligible to vote, such as employment status and politics.

  8. A lot of commentary regarding the voting age is through the lens of partisan politics, rather than from apracticality or a moral or ethical standpoint. The voting age has been progressively decreased over decades around the world. The most common minimum voting age is 18.

    I support the status quo of 18 because age is an objective measure and the line has to be drawn somewhere, Intellectual capacity, voter interest, contribution to society and impact by government policies are more debatable and extremely difficult to measure. I concede the age restriction may be unfair. We can all agree that there are 17 year-olds who have the smarts and the motivation to make an informed decision on who to vote for, and there are over 90 year-olds who aren’t. Similarly when drinking alcohol, some 17 year-olds may be better at tolerating alcohol than some 18 year-olds but one is allowed to purchase it and the other isn’t. Having a hard and fast rule is more practical. 18 is also the minimum age you can be to run for public office.

    I do believe that right-wing parties can appeal to or win over younger voters. Javier Milei, a right-wing populist and libertarian, has just won presidency in Argentina. He won over Argentina’s youth, who also happen to be the most economically deprived and disenfranchised.

  9. My support would be:
    – More Seats as proposed with roughly around 80-90 thousand voters in each seat as with Tasmania (due to 5 seat minimum)
    – Consider reforming the senate movement ng from state to federal level given I feel having the same number of senators for each state and only two for territories is completely unfair with Tasmania having the same representative with NSW plus ACT would overtake Tasmania population in the future (possibly needing a referendum)
    – Federal Referendum on moving to a four year fixed term and make Referendums not needing to rely on states (While it failed once in 1988 on federal level but I feel now opinions had changed given fixed term Referendum has passed in Queensland in 2016)

  10. @marh reforming the enate would require a referendum as they are guaranteed by the constitution. and i guarantee it would not pass because the smaller states would get less representation and would not support it. they also would not support referendums relying on states as the again the smaller states would not want the bigger states dictating laws (the very reason its this way in the first place)

  11. @ MLV,

    “How much do 16-17 yo’s vote for themselves as opposed to what others tell them?”

    That’s a perfect question for a civics classroom discussion!

    I also think this is what Nicholas is rightly concerned about – that this concern about the impressionability of voters applies to all age groups.

    “Would it [lead to better longer-term policy making]?”

    I reckon it would, but it’s a suggestion that would be hard to prove.

    “Just because you are classified as an adult for some things doesn’t mean you should for everything.”

    Yes, I agree, I don’t think we need to have adulthood rights all aligning at a single age threshold.

    Trent makes this point very well.

    @ Votante,

    That’s a fair comment. It should also be mentioned that a dozen or so countries have already lowered their voting ages to 16, and there’s probably more talking about making such a move.

    @ Marh,

    Fixing terms and enlarging parliament are great ideas. While it’d be nice to reform the senate, it may be too hard to get the smaller states to agree.

    A potential alternative could be to trial a People’s Assembly selected by sortition. Then you could invite people in representative proportions from all around Australia to ask experts and to deliberate on controversial issues (e.g. tax reform). This would also give the politicians a dignified way to support the informed will of the people.


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