We have a date folks, and it’s May 18! On this day, Australians will head to the polls for a federal election, determining who will lead our country for the next three years. To prepare for this momentous occasion, here’s a few key things you should know.
What you’re voting for:
Citizens (that’s you!) elect representatives to make laws on their behalf. General elections are held every three years to elect members of the House of Representatives and senators for, you guessed it, the Senate. So, let’s get started.
The Senate is one of the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament. It consists of 76 senators—12 from each of the six states, and two from each of the mainland territories. Together with the members of the House of Representatives, it shares the power to make federal laws for Australia.
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is the other house of parliament, sometimes called ‘the People’s House’ or the ‘house of government’. The party, or parties, that hold a majority of seats in the House of Representatives form government and become the leaders of Australia. There are currently 150 Members of the House of Representatives, and each one of them represents an electorate. But for the 2019 federal election there’ll be 151 members to elect to the house, with the creation of the electorate of Fraser in Victoria in 2018.
These are geographically defined areas Australians live in that are represented in parliament by a single elected Member of Parliament (known in the biz as MPs). At the election, you’ll vote for a candidate to become your MP. Once elected, MPs go to parliament to debate ideas and policy, acting for you and people in your community.
Don’t know what your federal electorate is? Use this nifty AEC tool to find out.
How to do it
This is everything you need to do to know to get the voting done! Let’s start with enrolling.
Enrolling to vote
You’re required to enrol to vote when you’re 18 years or over, but if you’re 16 or 17 and will turn 18 by the next federal election, you can also get your name on the list. Now this bit is really important—if you want to vote at the 2019 federal election, you need to be enrolled by 8pm on Thursday 18 April. Don’t miss the opportunity to get your voice heard!
Numbers of young people enrolled to vote
As of March 2019, there are a whopping great 1,633,471 young people enrolled to vote across Australia. That’s an enrolment rate of 85.8%, and the AEC sets its youth enrolment target to 80%. Go us!
There’s also discussion nationally about lowering the voting age to 16. Find out why we think that’s a bonza idea.
Once you’re registered to vote in a federal election, it’s compulsory to do so. Compulsory voting has been around since 1924 in Australia, and what it means today is that if you don’t vote you’re committing an offence and may be fined $20.
Got a hike planned, or you know you’ll be working on May 18? Whatever you’ve got on, if you can’t make it to a polling booth on election day, you can lodge an early vote. Early voting opens on Monday 29 April and you can find a list of early voting centres on the AEC website.
Where to vote
These are places all around Australia where you can lodge your vote on May 18. They’re usually schools, churches, community centres or public buildings. You’ll need to show some identification to an AEC official, answer whether or not you’ve voted in this election (because you’re only allowed to vote once), then spend some time deciding who you want to represent you in the Senate (upper house) and House of Representatives (lower house).
One more thing…
The election day snag
This is an election day must-have. When your civic duties have concluded, treat yourself to a sausage sizzle. We recommend loads of onion and sauce, but each to their own right, because that’s what democracy is all about. Soak it up, because it’s a good feeling knowing you’ve contributed to shaping the nation.
We want young people’s futures to be front and centre this election. That’s why we’ve launched the Future Skills 2030 Framework, helping young people to succeed at work now and into the future.