Australia Decides: Millions of Australians head to polls to pick their next Prime Minister

Australia votes
Australia votes
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After a marathon six weeks of election campaign, today Australians finally head to the polls to decide who will lead the country for the next three years.

Keynotes about Australian Election 2022:

  1. Australians are voting in an election that will decide the country’s prime minister and ruling party
  2. Polls predict a tight race between incumbent PM Scott Morrison, from the Liberal-National coalition, and Labor leader Anthony Albanese
  3. The election will likely be a referendum on Morrison who has led Australia through a pandemic and natural disasters
  4. Albanese is campaigning for change – and the rising cost of living and climate change have dominated as two key issues for voters
  5. But independents and minor parties could also see a boost, because of public dissatisfaction with the two major parties

It is a crisp morning in New Norfolk in Lyons, Tasmania’s largest seat.

Jordan has turned up to vote as the polls open.

Although he has noticed a lot of election material through his letter box, it has not swayed his vote and the material goes “straight in the bin,” he says.

Voters here have been bombarded with election material this campaign.

Despite the rural seat being held by Labor’s Brian Mitchell by what should be a comfortable 5.2%, both major parties have spent up big trying to win this seat.

Mitchell retained the seat in 2019 after the Liberal candidate crashed out in a racism scandal.

But this year Mitchell is facing criticism himself after inappropriate social media posts about women emerged, making this one of three Tasmanian seats in play this election.

The northern seats of Bass and Braddon are both held by Liberal members on tight margins.

Let’s hear from reporters across the country (Courtesy, BBC News)

We’re getting reports from BBC correspondents and reporters across Australia – so here’s what they’re seeing in some of the most interesting seats as voters come out to have their say.

How keen Adelaide voters blocked traffic… three days early

Interest is high in Boothby, Adelaide, as a high-profile independent candidate is in the race
Interest is high in Boothby, Adelaide, as a high-profile independent candidate is in the race

marginal electorate, Boothby.

With the sitting Liberal Party candidate retiring and a high-profile independent in the race – interest is high here.

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So despite election day being 72 hours away, the number of people driving to cast early ballots caused so much traffic chaos, that voters were acting as traffic police to try and keep things moving.

At the church acting as a polling station, a sign promised visitors would “experience the love of Jesus”.

Mainly they were experiencing queues and the love of volunteer campaigners trying to sway decisions.

Adelaide voter Ben McCarl doubts either party will be able to tackle soaring house prices
Adelaide voter Ben McCarl doubts either party will be able to tackle soaring house prices

They may have had some joy. Several of the voters I spoke to said they were only there to avoid the $20 fine faced if you don’t cast a ballot under Australia’s compulsory voting system, and still had not decided who to back.

“Don’t care who wins mate,” a young man called Frank told me.

Others were, mercifully, more engaged. For Ben McCarl, the biggest single issue is cost of living, especially house prices. “I’m looking to buy my first property but it’s so expensive,” he said – though he felt neither of the two major parties had policies that would help.

Some South Australians say they felt ignored this election – with neither Scott Morrison nor Anthony Albanese being regular visitors.

But Ben wasn’t too fussed. “The beauty of Adelaide is it is so small,” he says. “Most of the voters are on the east coast so you can understand why the leaders spend so much time there.”

Do the minor parties actually have a shot?

At governing? No.

At picking up some seats? Definitely.

Party supporters pictured at the Greens national campaign launch in Brisbane
Party supporters pictured at the Greens national campaign launch in Brisbane

In the last parliament, there were four minor party MPs and four independents in the lower house, and in the senate the crossbench was 15 members strong.

With voter disenfranchisement with the major parties high, there’s every chance those numbers will grow.

The Greens in particular think they’ll pick up an extra lower house seat, while polls indicate several independents candidates could also win a few.

Meanwhile Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party planned to drop A$70 million (£39m or US$49m) on the campaign. But if last election is any indication, they could still fail to win a seat.

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Everyone’s gone off polls… but here’s what they said anyway

Scott Morrison (right) is hoping to win a second term as Australia's PM
Scott Morrison (right) is hoping to win a second term as Australia’s PM

After last election, when major polls (wrongly) predicted an easy Labor victory, few are giving them too much weight this time around.

That said, the pollsters say their processes are more robust now. They’re again tipping Labor to win, although the race appears to be getting closer.

On a two-party preferred basis, some have had Labor up by as much as 8%, others as low as 2%.

Polls taken earlier this month before early voting opened had Labor up by 10% to 14%.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s disapproval rating remains high. Recent polls still had him as the preferred PM – but only by a couple points.

The basics – what this vote is for, and the frontrunners

If you’re a stranger to Australian politics (or an Aussie who tries to ignore it between elections – no judgement…), you can get up to speed on who is who, what they’re offering and how it all works here with… Our simple guide to this election

The basics are:

  • This vote will decide who serves as Australia’s next prime minister and which political group is in power.
  • Australians will vote for all the seats in the House of Representatives, and just over half the seats in the Senate.
  • The result in the House of Representatives – where the prime minister sits – will decide which party forms the next government.
  • One party needs to win at least 76 of the 151 seats there to form a majority government. If it can’t, it must try to win support from independent MPs, or those from minor parties.
  • Voting is mandatory for over-18s. More than 17.2 million people – 96% of eligible voters – are enrolled for the 2022 election.

Scott Morrison has been the prime minister since 2018, having taken over from Malcolm Turnbull.

He has been taking credit for adopting a tough closed-borders approach to Covid, which helped Australia achieve one of the lowest death rates globally.

But he’s also facing public perception problems, after criticisms of his character from senior members of his own party and others.

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His major challenger is Labor leader Anthony Albanese – one of Australia’s longest-serving politicians who was briefly deputy prime minister under Kevin Rudd in 2013.

We’ve been promised a tight race – but that’s based on polling, which was extremely wrong the last time Australians went to the polls.

So what this day holds is absolutely up in the air.

Welcome to our live coverage of Australia’s election

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Australia’s election! We’ll be bringing you up-to-date reporting from our team across the country, as well as the latest news lines and everything you need to understand why this vote matters – for Australia and the world at large.

The race to decide who Australia’s prime minister will be is predicted to be a close-run thing. As millions of people head out to make their choice, nails will be bitten among Australia’s top politicians – and on the ground, we’re already seeing impassioned voters and the ever-reliable sausage sizzles under way.

If that sausage reference made sense – congrats, you’re Australian. Enjoy this day of democracy in action.

If it didn’t – stick with us and it soon will!

Source: BBC

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