29 November 2022

The Labor government supports the inclusion of young people in government decision-making, and we support the enfranchisement of all Australians, but we're not here today to rush into changing the fundamentals of our voting system without proper consultation.

I have to say that just last week we saw the first advisory council of some 15 young Australians and invited them to Canberra to engage with government to have a say on issues that matter to them. That was via the Youth Steering Committee, and I saw much defunding and neglect of that inclusion under the last government. Last week and this week, Dr Anne Aly has been working with these young people to drive the development of our government's new youth engagement model. This is about creating meaningful opportunities for young Australians to have a say on government policies and programs. This is a model being developed by young people for young people. It brings together a diverse range of life experiences to this role. It brings together young people from a really diverse variety of backgrounds to have a say on a very wide variety of issues.

When it comes to the issues confronting young people in Australia today, we know that young Australians are uniquely placed to tell us about the problems they face and to shape the solutions that actually work for them. Young people in Australia are more than 15 per cent of our population, and we're not here to paint them with one brush of being young or being disengaged or only caring about one issue. Labor is committed to engaging with young people and learning about their issues and stories and their ideas for our nation. As a government, we want to not only work for Australia's young people but also work with them. This is a far more effective model from our point of view.

The committee includes some 15 young people, including from regional, rural and remote areas. We had a massive commitment from young people around Australia expressing their interest in participating. We now have participating young people from LGBTQI+ communities, First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and diverse religious backgrounds, along with young Australians with lived experience of disability, caring responsibilities and/or mental health issues. They all have a place on this advisory committee. From this you can see our commitment to Australia's young people. We had more than 1,200 applications from people aged 12 to 25 years old. So we know that young Australians are interested in our nation's political affairs and are interested in engaging in the decisions that impact them.

In this context, I certainly recognise that for many it includes a desire to pursue electoral enfranchisement. So, via this committee, we do hope that we will be able to engage with young people about their expectations for electoral enfranchisement. The Labor Party has led key electoral reforms in Australia, consulting with Australians very widely about how we gain better inclusion and participation from across our political spectrum. Electoral reform needs to be carefully considered and it needs to be addressed through multipartisan forums, such as parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. I am also committed to seeing the youth advisory committee as well as young people from right around Australia participating in these processes.

In this context, we can see that the Labor Party is committed to meaningful electoral reforms. We were, for example, the first party to introduce funding and disclosure schemes in early 1980s. Labor is absolutely committed to supporting young people in our political system— (Time expired)