Wednesday, September 28, 2022

We asked for your election questions. Here’s what kept coming up

We asked ABC readers what they wanted to know about the federal election and what matters to them.

So far we’ve received more than 7,000 submissions on dozens of topics.

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

But if you have more questions, you can submit them via the form at the bottom.

Voting

An illustration of a person casting their vote at the ballot box.
An illustration of a person casting their vote at the ballot box.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

How can I vote early?

You can cast your vote now at a pre-polling booth. Pre-polling booths are open at various locations around the country.

You can also cast a postal vote. Postal votes must be received by the AEC by the 13th day after the election.

How to vote on election day?

You can cast your vote at a polling booth on Saturday, May 21 between 8am and 6pm (local time).

How does preferential voting work?

You number the candidates on the ballot paper in order from your first choice (1) to your last.

Preferential votes are counted until one candidate gets more than half of all the votes.

If your first choice doesn’t get enough votes, your vote may be reallocated to your second choice.

How do I vote below the line for the Senate?

Voting below the line for the Senate means your vote goes directly to an individual candidate, rather than the candidates preference preferred by political parties.

If you vote below the line, you must number at least 12 boxes from 1 to 12.

Why is online voting not an option?

There has never been an ability to vote in an Australian federal election on the internet using a personal device.

The results of three NSW local government elections that used online voting in December 2021 were ruled as being invalid after the system malfunctioned.

Politicians

An illustration of a person speaking at a lecturer.
An illustration of a person speaking at a lecturer.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

Where do the major parties stand on policy issues?

You can see where the major parties stand on different issues here in this handy guide.

It covers a range of key policy areas for the major parties: the Coalition (Liberals and Nationals), Labor and the Greens.

What is a teal independent?

The “teal independents” are not a political party.

It’s a label that’s been given to a group of mostly female candidates taking on mostly male Liberal MPs in some of Australia’s wealthiest electorates.

How can I find out more about the candidates in my electorate?

You can read a full profile on each electorate and its candidates here.

What is a ghost candidate?

A ghost candidate is a term the ABC is using to describe someone who has been nominated as a candidate for a seat but who has not been seen or heard from by the constituents of that electorate.

An ABC investigation has found “ghost” candidates are contesting seats in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

What happens if a candidate gets disendorsed?

You can still vote for a candidate who has resigned or been disendorsed.

There have been instances where disendorsed candidates have run as independents and won.

climate change

An illustration of the earth turning to dust.
An illustration of the earth turning to dust.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

What is the Coalition policy on climate change?

The Coalition (the Liberals and Nationals) has committed to net zero emissions by 2050.

They plan to get there by investing more than $20 billion in “low emissions technologies” in the next decade.

What is the Labor party’s policy on climate change?

Labor has committed to net zero emissions by 2050, along with a 2030 target of a 43 per cent cut in emissions.

The party plans to upgrade the electricity grid, make electric vehicles cheaper, install community batteries and modernize steel and aluminum productions.

What is the Greens party’s policy on climate change?

The Greens want a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and want to hit net zero by 2035.

The Greens want to phase out coal and gas completely and switch to 100 per cent renewable energy usage as soon as possible.

Are there any policies on electric vehicles?

The Coalition plans to work with the private sector to increase the uptake of EVs, hybrids and hydrogen powered vehicles, and will fund 50,000 new EV chargers.

Labor wants to upgrade the electricity grid and introduce an electric car discount.

The Greens are pushing for an “electric vehicle revolution” and plan for all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.

cost of living

An illustration of a bag with a dollar sign on it and coins sitting next to it.
An illustration of a bag with a dollar sign on it and coins sitting next to it.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

Who actually sets interest rates?

The Reserve Bank of Australia sets interest rates.

The government generally does not set, or put a cap on, interest rates.

Are the major parties promising a wage increase?

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has advocated for the minimum wage to be lifted 5.1 per cent in line with inflation, but has stopped short of saying he would formally submit that figure to the independent wage umpire.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says a 5 per cent increase could take a real toll on small businesses.

How long will the cut to the fuel tax last?

The Coalition halved the fuel excise in the federal budget ahead of the election in late March.

But it’s only temporary with the cut due to expire at 11:59pm on September 28, 2022.

Labor has not offered to extend the fuel excise cut past September.

Housing

An illustration of a heart wearing a stethoscope.
An illustration of houses and apartments next to each other.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

What policies are there to make housing affordable?

The Coalition has announced plans to expand its first home buyers and its Family Home Guarantee schemes.

Labor is offering to help 10,000 households a year into home ownership as part of a “shared-equity” scheme and will also expand the first home buyers scheme.

What is a shared-equity scheme?

In shared equity schemes, the government covers part of the cost of a property, that can then be bought by the home owner over time.

These types of schemes are already run in Victoria and Western Australia.

What help will there be when the NRAS ends?

The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) makes rent more affordable for 22,000 properties nationwide.

It is due to end in June 2026.

There is no further or replacement government incentive, though rent can’t be changed until end of the lease period.

Can Clive Palmer’s UAP cap mortgage interest rates?

ABC’s election analyst Antony Green does not believe the UAP will be in a position of power to push the policy as, at most, it could get one Senate seat this election.

Neither major party likely to form government — the Liberal/National Coalition or Labor — has indicated any support for the idea of ​​a mortgage cap.

Business, Economy and Jobs

An illustration of a purse in front of three buildings.
An illustration of a purse in front of three buildings.,Nation World News: Widia Jala,

How much debt is Australia in?

The budget forecast deficits around $80 billion this financial year and in 2022-23.

Over the longer term, the budget forecasts deficits for at least the next decade.

Net debt is set to peak at $864 billion in 2026, which is an improvement on a $1 trillion forecast in previous budgets.

What is being done to address labor shortages?

The Coalition government is keeping the permanent migration cap at 160,000 places for 2022-23 but will increase the proportion of visas dedicated to skilled migrants to about 70 per cent.

Labor has indicated it will announce a policy before the election to make it easier for foreign workers to become permanent residents.

How is the unemployment rate calculated?

The Bureau of Statistics uses a labor force framework to calculate the rates of unemployment and participation.

You can see an example of how that’s done here.

If Labor wins, when will the budget be?

October 2022.

Trust and Integrity

An illustraiton of two people shaking hands.
An illustraiton of two people shaking hands.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

Which parties support a federal ICAC?

Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison has effectively ditched his commitment to establish a national anti-corruption watchdog.

Labor says, if elected, it would create a National Anti-Corruption Commission by the end of the year.

The Greens want to see an independent National Integrity Commission created.

Several high-profile independents have campaigned on establishing a national corruption watchdog as a key election commitment.

Why won’t major parties ban corporate donations?

Donations worth less than $14,300 do not need to be declared, meaning smaller fundraising drives by political parties will often not be included in the disclosures.

It is also possible for large donations to be made with multiple checks just under that threshold.

Money donated to political parties in the 11 months before the May election will not be made public until February 2023.

Aged care

An illustration of a woman with her arm around an older woman who is using a walker.
An illustration of a woman with her arm around an older woman who is using a walker.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

What is the Liberal policy on aged care reform?

The Liberals are promising to have staff spend at least three hours and 20 minutes per day with each aged care resident from next year.

At least one nurse would have to be on shift, across a minimum of 16 hours per day.

The Coalition government has not publicly backed a case in the Fair Work Commission to raise aged care workers’ wages.

What is the Labor policy on aged care reform?

Labor is promising to have a registered nurse on site at all times of the day.

It would require staff to spend at least three hours and 35 minutes with each resident — in line with the aged care royal commission’s recommendation.

Labor also supports the push for an increase to workers’ wages and will fully fund any increase.

Where will the additional nurses for Labor’s policy come from?

Party leader Anthony Albanese has admitted the party will need to recruit overseas health workers as a “stopgap” measure.

Healthcare

An illustration of a heart wearing a stethoscope.
An illustration of a heart wearing a stethoscope.,Nation World News: Widia Jalal,

What’s the plan for Medicare?

Anne Ruston, who has been nominated as the next health minister if the Coalition wins the election, says they will not cut Medicare.

Labor says its long-term goal is for dental services to be included in Medicare, but has not stipulated a time frame to achieve that.

The Greens are the only party with elected representatives in parliament promising to introduce universal access to free dental care.

Why isn’t dental included in Medicare?

Dental is not included in Medicare because it was considered too complex and too expensive to include in the scheme.

Will there be cuts to the PBS?

The Coalition says it’ll lower the cost of medicines on the PBS by $10, meaning the maximum cost will be $32.50.

Labor’s gone slightly further than the Coalition, promising to lower the cost of medicines by $12.50 to a maximum cost of $30.

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