Garner on 16-year-olds voting… just say ‘no’

Duncan Garner echoes my own opinion about the insane idea of letting 16-year-olds vote:

Sometimes your gut instinct or natural reaction to an idea or suggestion can be a powerful thing.

Go with it. Don’t fight it. It’s usually right. I kick myself when I ignore my gut instinct, more often than not it’s proved a good radar for me over the years.

You will know your gut feeling. It may have happened to you this week. When I woke on Thursday at 3.13am I scoffed at an idea from a man for whom I have the utmost respect. You may have too.

His name is Judge Andrew Becroft. He’s had tough and troubled kids from the wrong side of the tracks litter his courtroom for many years.

He knows the risks, complexities and fragilities facing young people. He knows their minds are cluttered.

So, let’s not complicate it further by asking them to vote. Their plate is full. Please can we keep these minds as innocent and as decluttered as possible.

Spot on Duncan, your gut instinct is right again.

There’s NCEA, exams, friends, ex-friends, enemies, acne, social media, nasty teenagers on social media, their first car, Facebook, the latest phone, insta, twitter, snapchat, school dances, the after-ball, pre-ball, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, both, LGBT and anyone else not included.

Don’t get me wrong, Becroft is a fine, intelligent New Zealander, who deeply cares for his country and the many communities that exist within it. It’s just that this is an idea whose time can wait.

Why is everyone so keen to be so fast? Suck it up and stop and enjoy. Sixteen-year-olds are still babies, despite how we all felt at the time. It’s a time for fun not a period that should be dominated by furious debate. Of course debate should be encouraged, but these kids are only learning to form opinions and arguments. Let’s teach civics in schools first. One step at a time.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I see two teenagers close-up. Their lives are full noise, they don’t need Winston Peters telling them how to think. They need to pass exams, dodge the many bullets in the car licence practical and start getting a part time job.

Becroft cares. No doubt. But his push to give 16-year-olds the vote belongs in a bin marked; Big Brain Fart. 

Yes, he was only doing his job as Children’s Commissioner but it feels like a box-ticking exercise on his behalf. Make them wait until age 18 before we give them the real box to tick. Besides, they’re all too busy and self-absorbed taking selfies and they’re yet to prove they can vote in big numbers anyway.

I doubt Becroft’s idea for 16 year olds to be handed the keys to the Beehive will take off. The odd country does it but you only need one hand to count them on.

Besides hasn’t there just been a  youth quake? Truth is the babies are in charge now anyway. 

Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges represent a massive generational shift in who now runs the country.

Ardern is closer in age to the 16-year-olds than she is to those going into retirement. It’s not young people without a voice we should be worried about. They have social media if all else fails.

No, I’m worried we might be chucking out some good old wise heads far too soon. And with that I wish Bill English a happy next phase in his life. He deserves a sleep-in. The young ones do it all the time, don’t they?

It is a stupid idea… that creates more problems and solves none. Giving 16-year-olds the vote will not make them pull their heads in, stop binge drinking or solve any issues teenagers think need solving, many of which don’t.

More to the point, a 16-year-old cannot be tried as an adult. Will that law change too?

Driving laws change? Drinking laws change? If you can vote then surely you can drink?

As usual, a womble had a brain fart and some idiot took it seriously.



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