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Thursday, 28 September 1972
Page: 1355

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) - I support this Bill because I believe that sooner or later the Parliament will be placed in the position where it will have to legislate for 18-year-olds to be given the right to vote. The recent decision of the

High Court of Australia put this responsibility onto the Parliament. The High Court found that the Constitution did not allow it to make the decision and it placed the decision fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Parliament. I want to refer to the first paragraph of the amendment moved by Senator Byrne on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. He said:

While the extension of the franchise to young people of the age of 18 years and under 21 years will provide for a more accurate reflection of the relevant opinion of electors . . .

I think that sums up the whole debate. The Democratic Labor Party spokesman admitted that this Bill will provide for 'a more accurate reflection of the relevant opinion of electors'. That is our policy. We have taken the initiative. Some Government senators, including Senator Marriott who has just made a valuable contribution, appear to support the principle involved in this legislation. Not only would I like to see a vote for the 18-year-olds, I would like to see also a vote tonight on this measure I feel that a lot has already been said in support of the Bill and nothing substantive has been said against it. I would like to see the Bill proceed to a vote as soon as possible.

Senator BYRNE(Queensland)- Mr Acting Deputy President, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wilkinson) - Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?

Senator BYRNE - Yes, I have been misrepresented by Senator Marriott. There are a couple of matters. Perhaps one was not significant but there is one to which I particularly refer. Senator Marriott said that I said that I proposed to move during the Committee stage of the Bill - if it came to that - the head of amendment which provided for proportional representation. I said the contrary. I said that in view of the complexity of the matter it would not be possible to spell that out without a great deal of thought, consideration and technical advice in terms which would make an amendment suitable to the Bill to be presented. I have here a suggested form of such an amendment. It is 10 pages in length. That is the type of thing which I have in mind. I said the contrary to what Senator Marriott alleged that I said in the course of his speech.

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