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Politics Explainer: Federal Election

 Visual courtesy of Elena Koskinas



The Federal election is fast approaching with the date set for next Saturday, May 18th.


It's a bit more complicated than this!



The last time we had one of these elections was in 2016, when the Coalition government, headed by Malcolm Turnbull, was re-elected under the ‘Jobs and Growth’ campaign slogan.  


Three years on, many things have changed - not least the positions of leadership in government - and no doubt, the outcome of this election will lead to even greater change.

Introducing the players


Yep, that includes ScoMo



The three main parties are: 

  • Liberal Party of Australia led by Scott Morrison - note: the Liberal Party forms a Coalition (like a political alliance) with the National Party of Australia led by Michael McCormack 

  • Australian Labor Party led by Bill Shorten

  • The Greens led by Richard Di Natale

Each of these parties have presented campaign policies, essentially explaining what they will do if they win the election and form government. These policies showcase their ideologies and try to win voters over onto their side.




Particular issues have taken centre stage in this election, most notably, climate policy - some have even dubbed it the “climate change election”, with the Australian public becoming more and more aware of the need to act on climate change.



Climate change

  • The Coalition:

    • Proposed a climate solutions fund, which provides financial incentives for polluters to reduce their emissions

    • Aim is to reduce emissions by 28% by 2030

    • Support the expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme (which generates electricity using hydro power) and other hydro projects in Tasmania

  • Labor:

    • Set a higher emissions target than the Coalition, aiming to reduce emissions by 45%

    • Proposed vehicle emission standards, which limit the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted by cars

    • Indicated plans to improve the infrastructure for renewable energy, with the long term aim of closing down coal-powered stations

  • The Greens:

    • Want to gradually stop our reliance on coal for energy and cut off exports of coal to other countries

    • Proposed a ban on vehicle engines that burn fuel by 2030



  • The Coalition:

    • Looks to continue rolling out its $158 billion income tax cut plan, with middle to high income earners set to receive the highest benefit from the upcoming phase

  • Labor: 

    • Plans to decrease taxes for 3.6 million people on lower incomes (below $48,000/year)

    • Wants to decrease taxes that benefit high income earners, such as by halving the capital gains tax, and getting rid of negative gearing (which benefits those who have investment properties)

  • The Greens:

    • Would like to tax high income earners at a higher rate, and remove tax concessions that benefit them

    • Want to increase the company tax rate back to 30% for businesses that make over $10 million per year



  • The Coalition:

    • Will invest in programs to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs for youth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

    • Looking to subsidise new drugs for liver, skin, kidney and bladder cancers

  • Labor:

    • Plans to decrease out-of-pocket costs for cancer treatment and diagnosis, including free cancer scans and free consultations with cancer specialists through Medicare

    • Announced plans to guarantee that new cancer medications will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), meaning they will be subsidised by the government and cheaper to access

    • Promises to increase funding to public hospitals, and reduce out-of-pocket dental costs for elderly Australians

  • The Greens: 

    • Want to make dental care fully covered by Medicare

    • Want to remove government rebates (partial refunds) for those paying for private health insurance



  • The Coalition:

    • Will increase federal funding to Catholic and independent schools, but freeze the growth in funding for commonwealth supported places in universities

    • Looking to increase funding for pre-schools, as well as provide a package for new apprenticeships in regions with skills shortages

  • Labor: 

    • Seeks to increase federal funding to public schools and Catholic schools, as well as increase university student places by 200,000

    • Wants to introduce a $1 billion package for vocational education and apprenticeships

  • The Greens: 

    • Like Labor, want to increase federal funding to public schools by $20.5 billion over ten years

    • Have the ambitious aim of making university undergrad programs and TAFE free



  • The Coalition:

    • Plans to give casual workers greater rights to request permanent full-time or part-time positions

    • Seeks to end the current situation in which employees are classified as casuals but they also receive the entitlements of permanent workers

  • Labor:

    • Seeks to bring back Sunday and penalty rates, and put in measures to protect low income earners and women

    • Wants to help worker unions by giving them more negotiation power

  • The Greens:

    • Look to increase the minimum wage to at least 60% of the average adult wage, and give employees greater bargaining power.

An informed vote


Voting is compulsory for all Australian citizens over 18 years. Some say it’s a distortion of democracy, since so many poorly informed people ‘donkey vote’ for the sole purpose of avoiding the hefty fine. Yet, the only way to change this is one informed vote at a time.




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