31/10/2015 9:45 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Government Labels Call For Lower Voting Age 'Headline' Grabbing

WILLIAM WEST via Getty Images
Australia's Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann speaks during a press conference in Sydney on September 23, 2015. Australia is well-placed to benefit from China's 'stronger and more diversified' economy despite slowing growth, new Treasurer Scott Morrison said, as local and Asian stocks slumped on weak new Chinese factory data. AFP PHOTO / William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

The Federal Government has dismissed calls for the voting age to be lowered to 16, accusing opposition leader Bill Shorten of headline grabbing.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Saturday the current age of 18 was appropriate.

"18 is the right line in the sand," he said.

"This is just Bill Shorten coming up with a pretty transparent attempt to grab a headline and I don't believe there will be much public support for this."

Shorten is pushing for the voting age lowered to 16 in a change he argues is needed to improve participation in democracy.

It would be the first drop in the voting age in more than 40 years, with it last dropping from 21 years in 1973 to the current 18 years.

Shorten has floated the idea in a speech to NSW young Labor members on Saturday.

He pointed to countries in Europe like Austria and Switzerland that have voting ages below 18 years in local and national elections.

Shorten told young Labor members in Sydney that 16-year-olds were young enough to vote.

"Decisions are being made every day which affect the livelihood of 17-year-olds why shouldn't we invite them to have a say," he said.

"After all, young people, including 16 and 17-year-olds pay tax, they can drive cars, they can serve in the military at the age of 17, they should be able to vote."