Michael Duffy, in the SMH last week (although it seems to have disappeared from their website), mentioned in passing how many issues seemed to be setting the older generation against the younger – global warming, the aged pension, housing policy, even economic policy – the interests of the older generation are trumping those younger.
And of course the extreme version of this is that people under 18 get no say at all. Their parents and grandparents do get a say at elections, but are also voting in their own interests, which may not coincide. Faced with the choice of trashing the environment for better living standards now, with a cost payable in 50 years time, most people over 50 will viscerally react differently from those under 20.
So why don’t we have notional votes for children? If we don’t trust them to make sensible decisions for themselves (even though I’d back my 6 year old against many apathetic voters) why don’t their parents or guardians get to vote on their behalf? Of course that would complete change the structure of the electorate – change the weightings away from those inner city suburbs out to the outer suburbs, giving extra weight to the “aspirationals” (for example, my electorate would increase by 18%, but Sydney as a whole would increase by 24%), but it actually seems to be fairer politics to me.
Of course Mr Penguin and I would probably disagree on exactly how to exercise our votes on the boys’ behalf. I don’t know how the AEC would choose between us -maybe we would get one each? But, at least in theory, the whole of the population would have a say.