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Voters And The Franchise: The Federal Story

This is a paper about the voting franchise at the Federal level in Australia since 1901.

Written by Jennifer Norberry and George Williams, the paper was published by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations. [Read more…]

Should Children Be Allowed To Vote?

A novel proposal to extend the vote to children has been advanced by Matt Gaughwin, a medical practitioner and senior clinical lecturer in public health at the University of Adelaide.

Writing in The Australian, Gaughwin says that children are second-class citizens who experience the greatest suffering and injustices in our society.

Gaughwin says that injustice and suffering experienced in childhood lasts a lifetime and is transmitted to the next generation. [Read more…]

Greens Win Protection Of Voting Rights For Youth And Prisoners

This is the text of a press release by the Australian Greens.

Australian Greens press release.

A Greens campaign against Government attempts to disenfranchise young people and prisoners was successful when the ALP, the Democrats and Senator Harradine backed the Greens stand in the Senate.

“This is a victory for democracy, by stopping Government legislation that would close the electoral rolls early before an election, the Senate has protected the integrity of our electoral system,” said Senator
Brown. [Read more…]

Enrolment Statistics State-By-State 1984-98

These are the statistics showing electoral enrolments at the Close of Rolls in each Federal election between 1984 and 1998.

The Close of Roll figures are calculated following the processing of all enrolment cards received by the date and time specified in the writ as the close of rolls.

Enrolment At Close of Rolls 1984-98
State 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1998
3 424 032
3 555 060
3 607 349
3 793 616
3 926 293
4 031 749
2 614 383
2 698 034
2 766 263
2 925 654
2 954 596
3 056 887
1 555 600
1 707 161
1 795 406
1 970 226
2 082 451
2 177 556
859 623
906 677
978 147
1 035 381
1 077 647
1 140 845
906 278
942 880
936 686
1 014 648
989 885
1 006 398
290 028
300 763
307 846
327 879
325 750
329 751
150 416
162 717
169 531
190 458
200 828
208 684
68 857
79 921
78 647
91 105
97 740
104 755
9 869 217
10 353 213
10 666 875
11 348 967
11 655 190
12 056 625

Source: Australian Electoral Commission Publications.

1996 Federal Election Enrolment Figures

This table shows the number of enrolled voters in each state at the 1996 Federal Election and the number of votes cast.

1996 Enrolment Figures
State/Territory No. of Enrolled Voters Total Votes Cast
New South Wales
Western Australia
South Australia
Australian Capital Territory
Northern Territory


Bill To Lower Voting Age To 18: Fred Daly Second Reading Speech

One of the Whitlam government’s first legislative acts was to introduce a bill to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

The Minister for Services and Property, Fred Daly, introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1973 at 3.30pm on February 28, 1973. It was debated and passed in both houses over the next two weeks, receiving bipartisan support. It received Royal Assent on March 16, 1973.

This is the bill:


Second Reading Speech by Fred Daly on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1973.

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) – I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

DalyThe purpose of this Bill is to bring forward legislation to lower the franchise age and the age of candidature to 18 years for Federal elections. At present, the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that persons who are not under the age of 21 years are entitled to have their names placed on. the roll and, when enrolled, to vote at elections for sena tors and for members of the House of Representatives. However, under a special provision, a member of the defence forces serving in a war zone outside Australia, who is under 21 years of age, is entitled to vote at a Federal election.

This is an historic occasion – an occasion, Mr Speaker, too long delayed. This Government when in Opposition endeavoured to extend the democratic right of the franchise to the youth of Australia. Private members Bills were introduced into both Houses of the Parliament in 1968 and 1970 and debated at some length. The Liberal-Country Party Government declined to bring these Bills to a vote. It preferred to deny this well recognised democratic right to an important section of the Australian community – the youth of this country – although the franchise for those 18 years and above is well recognised throughout the world. I am delighted that the privilege of introducing these historic measures – of rectifying this denial of natural justice – has fallen to me and that it is one of the first legislative acts of this Parliament. For me it is a proud and significant moment. After many years in Parliament and in Opposition I am indeed honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to present this, the first legislative proposal of the new Government, in the first session of the 28th Parliament. [Read more…]