In less than ten days time, Australia will go the polls to decide who will lead their party for the next three years. The last decade of Australian politics has been dominated by plotting and backstabbing, with party leaders being overthrown by fighting factions. Five Prime Ministers have governed the country in just ten years, with Labor and Liberals alike committing party coups against leaders lagging in the opinion polls.
This time, it’s a fight between Labor’s Bill Shorten and the Coalition’s Scott Morrison. The current coalition government is two seats short of a majority, with Labor needing seven more seats in order to govern.
So what platforms are the two major parties (the Coalition and Labour), how do Australians cast their vote, and what is the likely outcome of the election.
What are Australian’s voting for?
Australia, like the UK, has two houses of Parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both of these are elected, and the party or coalition of parties that have a majority of seats in Australia’s lower house (the House of Representatives) forms the government.
All 151 seats in the House of Representatives (up from 150 at the last election) are being contested in the election, as well as 40 of the 76 seats in the upper house, the Senate.
Voting in Australia is compulsory, with those who don’t register to vote facing a fine of $20 (£10.75).
The voting system for both houses is a preferential one. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and the candidate that gets more than 50 percent of the vote is declared the winner.
The Liberal/National Coalition, the group that is currently in government, is proposing tax cuts of $156 billion over the next decade, which would largely benefit low and middle income earners, and would spend more than $80 billion on the public healthcare system in 2019/2020, as well as investing $275 million in residential care for the elderly.
On climate change, they are dedicated to the Paris Climate Accord and has a target of producing at least 26 percent of electricity by renewables.
The Coalition has also pledged to make a record investment in education over the next ten years, and reverse a law that allows doctors to recommend the transfer of refugees from Pacific holding centres if they are unable to get necessary medical treatment.
Labour intends to raise the minimum wage and raise pay for people who work on weekends and public services, as well as matching the coalition’s planned tax cuts along with a bigger rebate for people earning less than $45,000.
The party has been critical of the Coalition’s divided position on climate change and have said they would ensure half of all new cars are electric by 2030 and aim for a minimum of 45 percent of energy to be generated by renewables.
They have promised to outspend the Coalition on healthcare, including spending more than $2 billion on free cancer treatment, and on education, with plans to subsidise pre-school for children for two years.
What’s going to happen?
Polls have consistently shown Labour ahead of the Coalition in the two-party preferred vote – with 52 percent to 48. This hasn’t changed much during the election campaign. Despite this, Coalition leader and Prime Minister Scott Morrison is the preferred Prime Minister by voters over Labor’s Bill Shorten.
Based on current projections, Labour are on course to win a very slim majority of just one in the House of Representatives and would be able to form a government, having gained five seats from the Coalition.