Skip to comments.Here's everything you need to know about Australia's election
Posted on 05/17/2019 7:36:59 PM PDT by Candor7
Melbourne, Australia - Australia, one of the world's oldest continuing democracies, goes to the polls on Saturday to choose the country's next parliament and prime minister.
Australians have had six changes of prime minister over the past 12 years - mostly the result of internal party fights - and the incumbent Liberal Coalition of Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hoping tax cuts and the enduring resilience of Australia's economy will be enough to keep it in office.
But growth is slowing and climate change has emerged as a major issue after the country's hottest summer on record.
The opposition Labor Party under Bill Shorten is betting voters will instead back its promises to improve education and healthcare as well as create a fairer Australia.
"This election, more than any in recent years, is a genuine clash of ideological direction on policy," said Simon Cowan, research director at the Centre for Independent Studies, a Sydney-based think-tank.
Here's what you need to know:
When is Australia's election?
Australian elections are always held on a Saturday - this time on May 18. Polling stations will be open between 8am (22:00 GMT Friday) and 6pm (08:00 GMT) and are generally located at schools, churches or other community buildings.
By May 13, some 2.6 million people had cast their ballots at early voting centres in the three weeks leading up to election day. Bill Shorten has been Labor leader since 2013
Who is voting?
Australians are eligible to vote once they reach the age of 18, and almost 16.5 million people have enrolled for Saturday's election.
Voting is compulsory, and those who do not vote are fined.
But registration among indigenous Australians is far lower than the rest of the population - 76.4 percent compared with 96.8 percent.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) started the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program in 2010 with the aim of "closing the gap" in enrolment rates and boosting turnout.
The largest gap is in the Northern Territory where indigenous Australians live in remote areas, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town, accessible only by dusty outback roads or plane. Voters in the remote Northern Territory community of Nauiyu cast their votes earlier this week.
How does the vote work?
Australians will choose 150 members of the House of Representatives (the lower house) and some 76 Senate seats (the upper house).
For the lower house, voters must number their choice of candidates. A "1" against a candidate's name is considered a first preference, and the contender who gets more than 50 percent of the total first preference votes is declared the winner.
If no hopeful gets at least 50 percent in first preference votes, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes are distributed to the remaining contenders based on the second preferences - a process that continues until a candidate reaches the 50 percent mark.
The Election Commission operates remote area mobile teams to give as many people as possible the chance to vote
Who's in the running?
Two camps dominate Australian politics: the centre-right Liberal-National Coalition, and the centre-left Australian Labor Party.
The Coalition, as it is known, has been in government since 2013.
Morrison has been leading the Liberals since August after taking power when the party turned against former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Morrison was previously an immigration minister - where he implemented tough policies on asylum seekers - and a treasurer.
Shorten, a former union leader who has held the education, workplace relations and financial services portfolios in previous Labor governments, has been party leader since 2013.
The left-wing Greens Party remains a third force in Australian politics, despite performing poorly in recent elections. Prime Minister Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull in August
Could smaller parties shake vote up?
Pauline Hanson's far-right One Nation party has gained ground in recent years - in 2017, it won 13.73 percent of the primary vote in state elections in Queensland, Hanson's home state.
The party has been rocked by scandal in recent weeks, however, including an investigation by Al Jazeera that revealed its attempts to get funding from pro-gun groups in the United States.
The United Australia Party (UAP), established by mining billionaire Clive Palmer and which pledges to "make Australia great" is fielding candidates in all 150 lower house seats, but is most likely to win a Senate seat.
Palmer himself was a member of the lower house between 2013 and 2017, where he gained notoriety as Parliament's most frequently absent member.
Chris Salisbury, a researcher in Australian politics at the University of Queensland, told Al Jazeera he doubted One Nation and UAP would gain as many votes as they did in previous elections, and "not enough [votes] in any one location to win a lower house seat".
So-called "micro parties" running for the Senate include the Involuntary Medication Objectors (Vaccination/Fluoride) Party, the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (Hemp) Party and the Pirate Party.
Quirks in the preferences system have allowed the occasional micro-party candidate to enter Parliament, including Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party who became a senator for Victoria in 2014.
"As with all these minor parties, it's a bit of a mystery how voters will act," Salisbury said. When will the results be known?
In the grip of drought: Should Australia's farmers be subsidised?
Preliminary counting of votes begins immediately at polling stations once they close. The winner for the lower house, which forms the government, will probably be known either by late on Saturday night or the early hours of Sunday morning. What's at stake this year?
Morrison has continually reiterated that Australia has a "clear choice" between the Coalition's "proven" economic management and Labor's "reckless spending".
"Labor is promising a big spending agenda - with a focus on education, health and climate change, in particular," said Cowan, of the Centre for Independent Studies.
"The Coalition, by contrast, is more of a party of the status quo, trying to convince voters with arguments about jobs growth, a budget surplus and security in retirement."
Australia's annual economic growth rate was 2.3 percent in 2018, and the country's central bank is mulling cutting interest rates, projecting growth to slow to just 1.7 percent this financial year.
Unlike in previous elections, immigration and asylum policy have not featured prominently.
But with the country's most recent summer being the hottest on record, climate change and environmental issues may be key to the result. Some 85 percent of the country's energy still comes from fossil fuels. Australia recorded its hottest-ever summer this year heightening concerns about climate change [David Crosling/EPA-EFE]
Most indicators point to a change in government come May 18.
Newspoll, a poll conducted by The Australian newspaper, showed the Coalition trailing Labor for the 50th consecutive time in March. The government has remained behind since.
"One of the key factors behind Labor's lead in the polls is that after successive governments trumpeting Australia's 28 years of continuous economic growth, Australians aren't feeling the benefits," said Bennett, of The Australia Institute.
While Shorten is not a hugely popular figure, the audience at several televised leaders' debates voted him above Morrison.
How might this affect foreign policy?
There is an unspoken norm of bipartisanship in Australian foreign policy and both major parties prioritise a strong relationship with the United States and see China as both a risk and opportunity.
However, a Labor government might bring closer engagement with Southeast Asia.
Penny Wong, who is expected to become Australia's new foreign minister under Labor, said recently that if elected neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia, the country where she was born, would be the first places she would visit.
Record heat ast year driving voters?
Didn’t realize that voting in national elections in Australia is compulsory. People who do not vote are fined?
Sounds like labor will win ?
“But growth is slowing and climate change has emerged as a major issue after the country’s hottest summer on record” So climate change was responsible for the hottest summer on record? Have not looked up the specifics, but that sounds like a load of BS to me.
Everyone else is moving toward populism.
Crikey, mates, don’t vote Labor.
When the MSM says ‘Labor’ will win, it’s a lot like saying, Hillary’s got this one in the bag.
It will be close, no doubt about it.
Yes, voting is compulsory. One has to be ENROLLED to vote. I’ve never heard anyone complain.
Going to listen for the results... tomorrow...Hope Australians will vote for freedom..
One can escape voting by moving overseas as I did when I was 6 and have never voted in an Australian election. I tried to vote in the monarchy referendum but was told there is no provision for anyone who is a citizen who does not have a residence in Australia. Thus I have been disenfranchised my entire life because I have chosen to remain Australian and not take up citizenship of another country. Oh well.....good luck Oz on tomorrows vote. Well today now as I assume voting is underway already.
Looking like a Labor win unfortunately. Been a lot of infighting in the Coalition ( Liberals+Nationals) and that is rat poison politically. The article was ok. Except it used the old chestnut of calling a populist party like One Nation, ‘ far right’. I noticed the Greens weren’t called far left. Typical globalist media behaviour. As for the heat. It was a ball buster summer for sure. And very widespread, except for the SW corner of the continent. A lot of long standing records were smashed. Still feels like summer in western Sydney and the official start to winter is only two weeks away. Warm frogs aren’t complaining though. Whether this influences voters I don’t know. Maybe some in the so called ‘inner city green’ areas in Sydney and Melbourne. But western Sydney electorates and Melbourne’s northern suburbs probably have other things on their minds. Morrison has a little more charisma than Shorten, but not much. He was a tough immigration minister and curtailed the swamping of our country via boat loads of gate crashers ( many of them mohammedans). Shorten is a typical union hack. Little private sector experience. A white collar type masquerading as a blue collar champ. No charisma. But alas, quite likely to be PM if polls are correct. Foreign policy will definetly change. Wong is a dyke imbecile of half Asian extraction ( her father). Not only will she try and hitch us closer to Asia she will be a bug bear for U.S relations (chinese solidarity). She will also show antipathy towards Israel and seek to ‘balance’ relations in that part of the world. Mohammedans wishing to gate crash here will get her full encouragement.
I imagine the reason for that might be that to enroll, you have to provide an address.
I’m hoping it will be a lot closer than the polls suggest. Labor should get the most votes but a study of the marginal could easily see Liberals hold most and pick up a couple. I’m still hopeful of a surprising Coalition win
At present even though its still a bit early it is going how I thought. Praying for a conservative win
My son & I did what we could to keep labor and the greens out.
My son just returned after a year working in Sydney.
Says it is a Godless, liberal socialist hell hole.
Exactly right. Well the results are coming in. Looks like a razor thin win for Morrison. Thoughts?
Your prayer may have been answered. :)
A narrow win is better than a loss.
Penny Wong looked miserable all night and Shorten has resigned.
God bless Australia and her future governors in whatever capacity they serve. To quote Conrad Black who just got pardoned by President Trump....on to better things
Happy day! I was confident that the polls were not a good reflection of the effect the Prime Minister was having in the Marginal seats but expected it to be closer than it has turned out. The Prime Minister is a praying man and I was praying along with him. Mainly that he would be someone who holds back the tide of social engineering and somewhat reset to more conservative moral values.
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