Voting for children

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.

  2 comments for “Voting for children

  1. November 12, 2007 at 6:47 am

    This is a very interesting idea. Of course as parents it is assumed that we will vote in the best interest of our children but other than issues that clearly affect children (education, healthcare) it is easy to focus more on our own views. At what age would a child’s parent begin to have a vote for them? Would an infant have a parent vote?

    I just found your blog via Peters Cross Station (I think) and am happy to have found a mother blogging in Sydney as we are preparing to make the move, with our kids, to Sydney.

  2. Tamara
    November 12, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    I’m sure kids could be accommodated for although I am wondering how politicians would go about winning their vote. I think kissing them would be right OUT.

    The problem is what children understand is how people help them interpret.

    Pulp mill: “They’re a bunch of bleeding heart greenies who want to stop people like you getting jobs in the future”

    “They’re saving the forest for your future”

    So you really have to give them an understanding of the party philosophies they’re voting for. Right now we teach democracy in grades 6 -7 (Qld) and look at different forms of government later on (if they’re lucky).

    Perhaps political systems should be taught earlier – perhaps even from grade 1. Mmm….a classroom is really a little commune – ohhh – could be lots of fun setting up obvious communes and capitalist systems within the classroom.

    Food for thought for anyone currently teaching primary or SOSE.


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