On this day in 1971, The Canberra Times reported that the federal government had decided 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds eligible to vote in state elections would not be able to vote in the next federal elections.
At the time, 18-year-olds could vote in Western Australia and South Australia.
According to the Commonwealth Constitution, adults who had the right to vote in state elections must have also been allowed to vote in Commonwealth elections.
But the interpretation of the word "adult" and who could be considered one, was a topic of legal debate.
The Commonwealth decided that for purposes of Commonwealth law, people under 21 were not adults, and thus were ineligible to vote in Commonwealth elections.
Mr Hunt, the Minister for the Interior at the time, said, "The right of persons under the age of 21 to vote at Western Australian state elections does not give such persons the right to vote at federal elections".
When asked whether the situation might change when Adulthood Bills in relation to 18-year-olds were passed in the states, he responded, "The effect of the enactment of any Adulthood Bills in the various states will be closely examined in relation to the franchise entitlement of 18 year old persons".
It appeared that the government was firm in that any changes in adulthood provision in the states would not make a difference in the voting qualifications for the Commonwealth.
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