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Federal election: ABC's political experts answer your burning election questions

Watch ABC News Channel's comprehensive coverage of the 2022 Federal Election.

ABC political experts Patricia Karvelas, Antony Green and Andrew Probyn joined the blog to answer your questions, as the wage debate heats up on the campaign trail.

Look back on all of Wednesday's updates as they happened in our blog.

Live updates

By Maani Truu

That's all for the Q&A today!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end — and our experts need to get back to preparing for the big event (just one and a half weeks to go now…).

Before we wrap up our daily coverage here, a big thanks to RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas, chief election analyst Antony Green and political editor Andrew Probyn for their time on the blog and to everyone who sent in their questions!

But don't fret, we'll be back at 8pm AEST with a fresh blog and all the news from the final leader's debate. 

For the final word, here's what our experts will be focusing on for the last week and a half of the campaign:

Patricia Karvelas

I'll be watching where the leaders are travelling to in the last few days — it will be very telling about where they think they can pick up seats. 

Antony Green

I'll be fine-tuning the computer system and making sure everything works ahead of election night.

Andrew Probyn

I'll be keeping in touch with trusted party figures. It's important to talk to the people on the ground. Intel is key. And I'll watch INTENSELY where the leaders go, last election Morrison made a late visit to the Queensland seat of Longman. No one thought — until that point — that the seat was actually in play. But the Libs had polling that it was very much winnable. It turns out they were right.

Election night is going to be truly fascinating. The politics of the pandemic has overlaid a complexity none of us — including the blessed pollsters — can predict. Everyone's experience of COVID has been different. Some states suffered more than others. Who they blame for it may leave a residual distaste that plays out in the ballot booth. Can an ageing government hang on, despite its accumulated controversies? Or will Anthony Albanese win, powered by the fact that he's not Scott Morrison?

By Maani Truu

Your question: Can we still rely on previous preference flows for predictions?

A question for Antony! I understand two-party preferred estimates flowing out of polling generally relies on preferences flows from the 2019 election. Given the large surge in 'teal' independents at the 2022 election, how robust is using the previous preference flows to calculate two-party preferred estimates? - Dan

From Antony Green:

It may be robust. It may not be robust. We found out after the event.

And another question for the chief election analyst. 

Antony, your call of the election is regarded by many as the decisive moment an Australian election is won/lost. In the context of fracturing information sources and democratic backsliding all over the world, do you ever worry that your eventual retirement will make Australia's democracy less resilient? - Stephen T.

And here's Antony Green's response:

Maybe, but you can't let yourself fret about events outside of your control.

By Maani Truu

Your question: If I get COVID, how can I vote on election day?

If we are required to self-isolate for seven days due to unfortunate timing in testing positive for COVID after this Saturday, how will we vote this election? - At Home with a Covid +

Now back to Antony Green:

Contact the Australian Electoral Commission, who can take telephone votes due to COVID isolation.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Where do independents have a chance of unseating incumbents?

In which seats do independents and minor parties have a real chance to unseat major party incumbents? - Steven, QLD

From Patricia Karvelas:

On the night I'll be looking at Goldstein, Kooyong and North Sydney — and even a rural seat like Nicholls. I think the seat of Griffith in Brisbane is also interesting if you look at the Greens polling.

And another short one. 

How can Clive Palmer get away with promise to cap interest rates? - Geoff M

Patrica Karvelas:

I hope he isn't getting away from it because it's a silly policy proposal not steeped in reality. But he has made himself unavailable for questioning so I can't quiz him on it sadly.

By Maani Truu

Your question: What's influenced changes to political reporting?

I've noted over a number of years a general lowering in the quality of political journalism across agencies. This, for example, includes an increased prevalence of largely parroting advisor written talking points, the pressing for answers and not simply accepting empty rhetoric being considered "rude", the appalling appeal of ‘gotcha' moments that add no value to discourse and distract from actual content. Thoughts on what has influenced this thanks? - Brad

And here's Patricia Karvelas:

I think we are at a point in time where because of the 24-hour news cycle, people get to see us work in action and sometimes they don't like what they see.

I think the media has a responsibility to be accountable because our job is so important in a functioning democracy. I believe that sometimes people see things through their political prism. They are angry when their preferred party is questioned but love it when the other side gets the treatment. I don't play favourites.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Some seat predictions?

Are Josh Frydenberg or any other Victorian coalition MPs really at risk of losing seats to independents? Or is this just a beat up by both sides to fire up the electorate? - John

Here's Patricia Karvelas:

Yes, they are real at risk — I think it is a real threat. But like anything, because single-seat polling is unreliable, the extent of the threat will only be proven on election night.

And here's another one. 

Will Craig Kelly win Hughes? Will it remain Liberal or is there a possibility that he could spilt the vote and enable a Labor win? - Matt C

From Patricia Karvelas again:

Craig Kelly won't win Hughes. I think the Liberal is likely to win.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Is Jason Clare set for a promotion if Labor wins?

Ministries of incoming governments typically, if only slightly, differ from the shadow portfolios assigned prior to an election. You've all followed politics over many decades, so what's your view on whether Jason Clare's performance throughout this campaign as spokesperson will see him positioned for a more prominent central senior ministry than just the housing portfolio? If so, what do you think it might be? Is this a similar situation to the promotion of Kristina Keneally following the 2019 election? - Leigh

Now back to Patricia Karvelas:

There will certainly be a reshuffle. The big talk in town is that Richard Marles would get the Defence portfolio — as deputy leader he can actually choose. And yes, performance in the campaign will definitely have an impact.

I do think Keneally will stay in Home Affairs and she has expressed she wants to. But I think Clare will certainly be in a position to receive a big portfolio.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Are One Nation and the UAP preferencing each other?

Are One Nation and UAP preferencing each other? And if so, do you think this will pull votes from the Coalition, especially in the Senate? - Michael

Here's Andrew Probyn:

The more important question is what order the UAP and ON are preferencing Labor and the Coalition. UAP is preferencing the Libs and Nats ahead of the ALP in a host of marginal and key seats, including in Chisholm (Vic), Bass (Tas) and Reid, Mackellar, Parramatta and Wentworth (NSW). UAP will also preference LNP in the Queensland seat of Flynn, where the ALP believed it had SOME chance, plus Wide Bay. This is NOT exhaustive!

Leading Liberal moderate Trent Zimmerman (North Sydney) is last on Palmer's and ON‘s how-to-votes. He's in a fight for his career against a teal indie.

Pauline Hanson will preference against "left-leaning Liberals" in the LNP in Queensland, where Labor only has a handful of seats.

In Tasmania, ON will NOT preference Liberal Bridget Archer in Bass but preference in favour of Gavin Pearce in Braddon.

She will also preference against Tim Wilson in Goldstein (where the incumbent is in some trouble). With Pauline, it can be personal.

By Maani Truu

Your question: How important are preferences — and how do they work?

Can you explain preferences and how much they impact the final vote? - Adam

Another one for Antony Green:

The winning candidate must achieve 50 per cent of the vote to win. If no candidate has 50 per cent on first preferences, the candidate with the least vote is excluded, their ballot papers re-examined and transferred to one of the continuing candidates according to the second, third, etc, preferences that voters wrote on their ballot papers. The process of elimination and transfer can continue until only two candidates remain and one candidate has more votes than the other.

These transfers are determined by the numbers (preferences) that each voter writes on their ballot paper. A voter's ballot paper is transferred to continuing candidates as determined by the voter.

Voters who gave a first preference for one of the final two candidates don't have their ballot paper examined for preferences. Only candidates excluded from the count have their ballot papers re-examined for preferences.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Would Australia ever consider a mixed-member proportional representation system?

Do you ever see Australia adopting (or seriously discussing) a mixed-member proportional representation system like New Zealand and Germany? It seems strange that the national party can get 10 seats with less than 5 per cent of the vote, but the Greens only have one despite winning more than 10 per cent of the vote. Keep up the awesome coverage! - Dan

Here's Antony Green:

They could move to adopt a form of proportional representation, but I doubt MMP would be chosen. MMP is not a preferential system and Australians are somewhat wedded to indicating preferences.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Could we ever have elections tied to a date?

Any chance that, in some future scenario, elections could be tied to a particular date? I don't see how the pre-campaign date speculation, inconsistent term lengths, and vagaries around funding of political marketing material contribute in a positive way to our democracy! - James, Far North Queensland

Another one for Antony Green:

Yes, but it would require a referendum to be a permanent change.

It is possible for parliament to pass a law fixing dates when elections can be held, but such a law could be amended. One difficulty is that such a law could not restrict the use of the power of the Governor-General to grant a Prime Minister's request to hold a double dissolution election.

By Maani Truu

Your question: How do I find out where a candidate's preferences go?

How do I find out where the candidates' preference votes will go? - Sally F

Now back to Antony Green:

Candidates don't have preferences. Only voters can determine preferences by the numbers they write on their ballot paper.

Candidates and parties can try to influence what a voter writes on the ballot paper but they can't control or alter the voter's choice. One hundred per cent of preferences on every ballot paper flow where the voter directs them.

Until 2016, parties could control between party preferences on ballot papers, but that system of party control was abolished in 2016. Whether you vote above or below the line on the Senate ballot paper, preferences between parties are now determined entirely by the voter.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Could David Littleproud become PM?

Can David Littleproud become PM or opposition leader? He's with the LNP. - Glenn

Here's Patricia Karvelas:

Great question, but no — he sits in the Nationals partyroom when he is in Canberra even though he is on one ticket called the LNP (Liberal National Party), which is merged in Queensland. There is no chance the Libs who have the majority would let that prize go to a Nat.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Are people turning more attention to state governments?

Hey folks, are we seeing a trend where people are fed up with federal politics and the failure to address fundamental issues at the national level so that now folks are turning their attention to state politics, policies etc? I have to say, I have more faith in the newly elected Labor gov in SA to address my concerns than either the federal Libs or Labor Party. - Carl

Here's Patricia Karvelas:

Hi Carl, I don't know about this — I can't see this trend. I think people get frustrated with state and federal governments at different times and that it's a complex relationship.

Definitely on some issues though, like climate change, we've seen state governments like the NSW Liberal government go it alone with more ambitition because of the inertia at the federal level and the long years of climate wars.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Could we see a third force party?

If the Liberal moderates are wiped out, what is the likelihood of a third force party arising on the centre-right — perhaps attracting the teals and some other independents (like in a number of European countries)? - Zouch

Any chance we'll see the return of the Democrats? I'm too young to have any solid memory of them, but it seems like they were a really positive political force. - Can we keep the bastards honest

Here's Patricia Karvelas answering both those questions: 

I am really interested to see if this would emerge and I think the teal Independents do have a lot in common. The Democrats were that kind of force — they did the deal on the GST with John Howard!

But John Howard always described the Liberal Party as a "broad church" and I think that having a diversity of views is the only way to be a big mainstream party or you end up being niche. Niche doesn't win general elections.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Are there signs of a 'uniform swing' to Labor?

There's a lot of focus in the opinion polls on the current margin to the ALP giving them a majority, but it is oft noted that this requires a "uniform" swing. Is there any indication this swing is happening across the board or is it concentrated in electorates that have already turned away from LNP? - Marquis de Condorcet, NSW

Here's Patricia Karvelas

This is a super smart and informed question. Let's not forget that Kim Beazley won the majority once but failed to win the majority of seats.

This is a genuine issue for Labor — they need the swings to happen where it matters and they have been running ground campaigns in those seats, particularly targeting WA and Tasmania. But yes, there's a real chance they could fall short which is their fear.

By Maani Truu

Your question: What will be the priority task for a new government?

What do you think will be the priority task for a new government in the first 100 days? - Keith

We asked both Andrew Probyn and Patricia Karvelas to answer this one. 

Here's Andrew Probyn:

Given this contest has had a paucity of policy, both sides will have to establish what they'd do with government.

Morrison's pitch in particular has answered less about the future than it has relied on the past (pandemic and economic performance).

Albanese has shied from a Shorten-style manifesto of bold ideas, yet he's claimed to be in the continuum of Hawke-Keating reformists… he'd have to tell us soon enough what his big ideas actually are! Albanese's main argument for government is that he's not Morrison. Morrison counters this by saying, "you might not like me, but have you seen the other guy?" It's been an uninspiring campaign on that front, for sure.

Anyway, their first 100 days?

For Albanese:

  • Goes to Japan for a meeting of the Quad on May 24.
  • He'll ask the Fair Work Commission to give a wage rise to the lowest paid (even if he DOESN'T nominate the 5.1 per cent figure).
  • He'll call a jobs summit, which MIGHT throw up some ideas for reform.
  • The budget will be in October — a critical moment that will tell us whether the ALP will stick with the Stage 3 tax cuts and whether it intends to pursue economic reform of some type.

And Morrison:

  • Declare a second miracle!
  • Goes to Japan for a meeting of the Quad on May 24.
  • The rest? Establish a three-year agenda.

Now, here's Patricia Karvelas on the same question:

Hello Keith! Happy democracy sausage day to you!

Labor says a full employment summit will be convened in the first 100 days and he will attend the Quad meeting in Tokyo days after the result. Scott Morrison would also go to the Quad.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Why aren't minor parties included in debates?

Why are minor parties such as the Greens, One Nation and UAP never included in any televised debates with the major parties? Would that approach be beneficial for democracy and transparency? - Phillip

Here's Andrew Probyn:

Televised leaders debates are between the Prime Minister and the alternative, and they represent the parties of government — the ALP and the Coalition.

I'd love to see a debate between Adam Bandt, Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer. That would be popcorn TV!

Would it be good for democracy? Wouldn't harm it. But Bandt ("Google it, mate") and Palmer have both appeared before the National Press Club this year.

By Maani Truu

Your question: Who do you think the next Liberal leader could be?

If the "teal independents" manage to get over the line in a number of blue ribbon seats as the polls suggest, and should Morrison choose not to be leader if the LNP are relegated to the opposition benches, who do you think could become Liberal leader? - TJ

Here's Andrew Probyn's answer:

The next Liberal leadership showdown would likely be between Peter Dutton and Josh Frydenberg — but not if the Treasurer is knocked off by a teal!

By Maani Truu

Your question: Could we make things better?

For Anthony, what rule change to our system of elections would be a positive change, if any? - Nat

Here's Antony Green:

Something that would allow more votes currently rejected as informal to be included in the count.

Voters must fill in preferences for every candidate. Even if those preferences never need to be examined for the count, they must be present for the vote to be formal and included in the count. I think it is ludicrous to reject a ballot paper for missing a preference that does not need to be examined to determine the winning candidate.

The example I use is the 2009 Bradfield by-election. There were 73,000 ballot papers and 22 candidates including nine Christian Democrats. The Liberal candidate polled 56 per cent of the first preference vote. Yet every one of those 73,000 ballot papers was examined to ensure all had a valid sequence of 22 preferences, even though not one of those preferences needed to be examined to determine the winner. Even people who voted ‘1' for the Liberal candidate risked having their vote declared informal because they made a mistake numbering between the nine Christian Democrat candidates, all of whom had negligible votes.

Rather than strict rules defining what can't count, we need principles that allow more votes to count.