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What ABC readers asked us about the 2022 federal election

Oh, what a night!

The election has been and gone, with the Australian people turfing out the Coalition government to elect Labor for the first time in nine years.

Throughout the six-week-long campaign, we asked what mattered most to you and what you wanted to know.

We received more than 10,000 submissions on dozens of topics, and you'll find the answers to the most-asked questions below.

Politicians

An illustration of a person speaking at a lectern. (ABC 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. (ABC 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 modernise steel and aluminium 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. (ABC 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 houses and apartments next to each other. (ABC News: Widia Jalal)

What's the Super Home Buyer scheme?

The Coalition will allow first home buyers to use up to 40 per cent of their super, capped at $50,000 or $100,000 for a couple, to help them buy a home.

This would apply to both new and existing homes.

The amount removed will be returned to the superannuation account, plus a proportion of the capital gains, when the house is sold.

But to take up the scheme buyers need to have at least a 5 per cent deposit.

How is this different from the Home Guarantee Scheme?

Regardless of which party wins the election, a scheme that helps first home buyers purchase a property with as little as a five per cent deposit, or 2 per cent deposit for single parents, will be extended.

The Home Guarantee Scheme sees the government guarantee up to 15 or 18 per cent of a loan, meaning buyers can avoid paying lender's mortgage insurance.

The Coalition has also pitched a regional housing scheme, which is very similar to one first announced by Labor.

It would offer 10,000 5 per cent deposit guarantee spots to people (not just first home buyers) who buy new homes.

By comparison, Labor's scheme would also offer 10,000 5 per cent guarantee spots to first home buyers in regional Australia looking to buy existing or new homes, as long as they'd lived in the area for 12 months already.

What is Labor's shared-equity scheme?

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.

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's the policy for downsizing to boost availability?

The Coalition is encouraging Australians aged over 55 to downsize to smaller homes, by extending an existing scheme.

The idea is that by people selling their larger family homes, younger families will have more options in the property market.

Sale proceeds will be exempted from the assets test for two years instead of one, and people will be allowed to deposit up to $300,000 into their superannuation without any penalties.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has promised to match the offer.

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 suitcase with a stack of paper in front of three buildings. (ABC News: Widia Jalal)

How much debt is Australia in?

The budget forecast deficits of 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 labour 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 labour 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. (ABC 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 cheques 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. (ABC 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. (ABC 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.

Defence

An illustration of a military tank (ABC News: Widia Jalal)

What is the Coalition's Pacific policy?

The Coalition has not offered any substantive new policies relating to the Pacific during the election campaign.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has largely focused on selling the government's record in the region under the Pacific Step-up — including defence training programs, assistance tackling illegal fishing, the expansion of Australia's diplomatic network in the region and reforms to Pacific worker schemes.

She ha also spruiked the government's push to help vaccinate the region from COVID-19, with more than 32 million doses sent to countries in the Indo-Pacific. More than 3 million of those doses have been sent to Pacific Island nations. 

What is Labor's Pacific policy? 

Labor has pledged to provide $525 million in foreign aid over four years to Australia's Pacific neighbours

It would also add 3,000 permanent migration places for Pacific Islanders and allow seasonal workers to bring their families with them.

Labor is also promising to expand Australian broadcasting in both the Pacific and the broader region, and explore potentially restoring Australian shortwave radio broadcasting.

Can the Port of Darwin deal be reversed? 

Chinese-owned company Landbridge signed a 99-year lease on the Northern Territory facility in 2015. 

The government had decided to privatise the port for $506 billion in a bid to save it from crumbling, given its potential for future economic growth. 

Despite reports of Landbridge's alleged close ties with the Chinese Communist Party, which has recently increased its presence in the Indo-Pacific region, the Defence Department says there are insufficient grounds to revoke the lease. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said the government has no authority to intervene with the lease agreement.

Retirement

An illustration of a fold-up chair beside a tree by the beach. (ABC News: Widia Jalal)

Will pension payments increase? 

We haven't heard any pledges from either the Coalition or Labor to increase age pension payment rates during the election campaign.

The Greens want to lower the pension age to 65 and have proposed a scheme that would boost age pension payments by up to $244 per fortnight.

Katter's Australian Party wants the payment to go up by $200 a fortnight. It also wants to increase the amount pensioners can earn before their payments are reduced. 

The United Australia Party wants to increase the pension by $180 a fortnight.

Will the income threshold for the pension be increased? 

The Coalition and Labor have pledged to freeze the deeming rate for two more years.

Both major parties are also promising to raise the threshold for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Will new assets tests be applied to the pension? 

An asset test is already in place for Australians seeking to access the full pension.

The test considers whether you're part of a couple and whether you own your home. 

Generally, the asset limits test does not include your principal home and up to the first two hectares of land it is on — but the rules are different if you own and live on a farm. 

As part of a policy to encourage older Australians to sell their home, the Coalition is promising to leave any proceeds of a sale out of the pension asset test for two years, rather than one.

Labor has matched the policy.

Education

An illustration of a stack of books with a mortarboard hat hanging off one (ABC News: Widia Jalal)

What are the policies to make childcare affordable? 

The Coalition government brought forward its childcare subsidy changes from July to March this year. 

Labor is proposing a more generous subsidy scheme basically across the board, providing larger subsidies of up to 90 per cent and lifting income thresholds significantly. 

Labor's long-term goal is to provide a universal, 90 per cent childcare subsidy to all families. 

The Greens want to make child care essentially free by ditching the income and activity tests needed to get the subsidy.

Will there be any change to university fees? 

The Coalition made significant funding changes to universities in 2020, more than doubling the cost of social sciences degrees while making nursing, maths and teaching degrees cheaper.

It also provided more support for regional and remote students.

Labor would cover the cost of 465 thousand TAFE spots over four years, and create 45,000 new TAFE places.

Labor is also promising to create 20,000 new university places with a focus on areas where there are currently skills shortages.

The Greens want university and TAFE to be free for everyone and for all student debt to be wiped out.

Will public schools receive more funding? 

Labor's pitch to parents involves topping up funding to underfunded public schools in the 2023 school funding agreement, but it is an aspiration and not a promise.

The Coalition's plan is to do this by 2029.

Voting

An illustration of a person casting their vote at the ballot box. (ABC News: Widia Jalal)

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 the candidates preferenced 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.

How do I vote if I have COVID-19? 

The AEC has recommended that phone voting should be extended to those who have tested positive since last Friday (May 13) at 6pm, in cases where they have not voted early or applied for a postal vote. 

Voters will need to provide proof of the date and time of their positive PCR result or the serial number of their RAT.

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

So far we've received almost 9,000 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.