Something One Nation's Pauline Hanson does a lot is appear on Sunrise, Australia's less popular breakfast show. Ever the provocateur, she uses the soapbox regularly afforded her by desperate Channel Seven producers to advertise a number of strange and ill-informed views on the national stage.
This morning was no different. While invited to comment on the proposal that Australia should increase the legal smoking age to 21, Hanson casually dropped in the fact she believed our legal voting age should be raised too.
"[Young people] don't have any idea," Hanson said live on air this morning. She is, for the record, 63 years old. "They've never held a job, they've never paid any taxes, they have no understanding of politics—and you want to reduce it because you think it will increase the Green's vote. They have no idea."
In conversation with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, also appearing on this morning's episode of Sunrise, Hanson randomly attacked a Greens policy that proposes the voting age be lowered to 16. This, she predictably said, would be "un-Australian".
Australia's minimum voting age of 18 is common around the world, with most Western democracies lowering this threshold from 21 during the early 1970s—the United Kingdom was the first to do so, with Canada and Australia following its lead in 1974. A minimum voting age of 16 is seen in Austria and Brazil.
Ridiculous and retrograde as Hanson's proposal might sound, there'd certainly be something in it for her; the youth vote doesn't tend to work in One Nation's favour because 18-year-olds aren't usually right-wing populists. In the last federal election, Hanson's voters tended to be older, Australian-born people from disadvantaged areas.
Just in case you're slightly swayed by Pauline's rhetoric, new statistics from the Australian Electoral Commission actually highlight the fact young people are more politically engaged than ever. 60 percent of new enrolments in the lead up to the same-sex marriage postal survey came from people aged between 18 and 24 years of age: 65,274 young people in total.
According to the Guardian's analysis of the data, most of these were young women from inner city suburbs who you might predict aren't going to make like Hanson and vote "No".
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