Australia’s 2022 federal election is now just six days away, and the past month has been anything but calm in the campaign world.
Now that we’re only a few days away, we thought it worth collecting some information about what the major parties promise when they get to work. Also, what the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and tech platforms are doing to address misinformation ahead of the big day
Let’s start with some quick election cleanup.
When is the 2022 Australian federal election?
The federal election is set for May 21 – the last possible date Morrison could choose under Australian law when he announced it. It’s too late to register to vote now. Still, it’s worth clicking that link to ensure you’re registered next time (federal electoral law makes it mandatory for all eligible Australian citizens to register and vote in national elections, by-elections, and referendums).
Also worth noting is that the AEC is quite active on Twitter, keeping us updated with crucial information in the lead-up. So if you have many questions that aren’t answered here, we recommend contacting them.
What is the proposed technology policy?
While several initiatives have been promised by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Coalition (liberal and national parties), some have also been made by the Australian Greens and the United Australia Party. However, we’ll only go into the technology/environment announcements in addition to the reports – the stuff Gizmodo Australia covers (and will follow in the future).
Crackdown on Big Tech
While no solid promises have been made under the guise of “this is our Australian federal election pledge”, one thing all parties can agree on is that ‘Big Tech’ should rule. The internet isn’t disappearing anytime soon, so we can expect a lot of work to be done in this space, no matter which party comes in. It’s also worth noting that it’s not just the ALP and the coalition that wants this work – Member of Parliament Craig Kelly (who joined Clive Palmer’s UAP) is also eager to examine the tech platforms. While the Australian Greens have largely supported neighboring initiatives from tech giants, they have posted a post-it note with their concerns alongside certain policies.
During the first leadership debate, Morrison also fueled his distaste for social media, blaming Big Tech for Australia’s lack of trust in the political system.
Under Morrison, Big Tech must build improved security controls into their devices that are easy to use by parents and difficult for children to get around. The eSafety Commissioner would work with Apple and Samsung to design device settings and a binding code under the Online Safety Act. In short, technology companies should create protections for smartphones and tablets as part of a new safety package.
The ALP, meanwhile, has also vowed to close the loophole in multinational tax avoidance, with plans to recover $1.9 billion over projected estimates. Likewise, the Australian Greens want billionaires and big corporations to “pay their fair share”.
So far, the Scott Morrison-led coalition has shed some light on technology-related promises ahead of the federal election and even more light on climate change/environment. Go here for a full rundown of the coalition’s technology-related election policies and promises, but are on the party’s agenda:
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he has a “real plan for a better future”. During his budget speech last week, he stated: “Climate change is here, and its effects are devastating”. Again, go here for an overview of this election policy, but at a glance, Labour’s pledges include the following:
Australia Energy Plan (Net Zero Emissions by 2050) Power Grid Modernization A ‘Better’ NBN More Tech Jobs A $1 Billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund Establishment of a National Anti-Scam Center Prepare for a New Once in a Lifetime Pandemic Stop multinational tax evasion A $500 million investment in a national EV charging network Build some electric buses Audit myGov and a Robo-debt Royal Commission.
The Australian Greens
The Greens’ federal election plan for 2022 is simple. “This is our plan: We will tax the billionaires and big corporations and provide the things we all need for a better life,” the website reads. Go here for an overview of these election policies, but here’s what they focus on:
Plan to phase out coal, oil, and gas. New environmental laws to protect animals, including a $24 billion plan to end animal extinction by 2030 and tax billionaires.
The UAP also has several items on its agenda in the run-up to the Australian federal election and beyond.
How the AEC is fighting misinformation in the 2022 federal election
The AEC has been pondering disinformation for years but officially launched its election campaign for misinformation in April. This includes a misinformation register that acts like an FAQ page where a ‘fake news’ myth is posted, and the AEC puts a big red ‘X’ next to the line if it is indeed misinformation. My favorite is the myth that pencil votes are erased once the count starts. You can still vote if you haven’t received your full three jabs.
The AEC is also actively fighting the trolls. Recently, the AEC has been working hard on Twitter, responding directly to claims about the Australian election process. It does not tolerate election misinformation.
We understand that people are passionate about the election process. Very well.
However, unfounded claims of bias by the AEC or the Commissioner are wrong, dangerous, and little different from what has been seen abroad. Let’s be better.
— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) March 9, 2022
It’s also quite a nice account.
Friend, if we had been able to correct our mistakes in 2004, we would have gone back and stopped ourselves from getting icy tips.
— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) Apr 5, 2022
What Tech Giants Are Doing
Meta and Google have a handful of initiatives underway to curb the spread of misinformation on their respective platforms.
Google says it’s working with campaigners, candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society to help everyone understand digital best practices and their responsibilities through the Google Ad Policies and YouTube Community Guidelines. The tech giant has policies regulating misinformation, including misinformation about elections, across all its platforms.
There are new verification requirements for Google Ads, and Google also applies limited targeting for election ads in Australia. Only geographic location (excluding radius targeting), age, gender, and contextual targeting options such as ad placements, topics, and keywords across sites, apps, pages, and videos are allowed. All other types of targeting are not permitted for use in election ads.
It also monitors news items offered to Australians surrounding the federal election.
Meta, meanwhile, is counting on its involvement in 200 elections (around the world) since 2017 to aid it in the 2022 federal election. The former Facebook says it uses a “comprehensive strategy” to counter misinformation, election meddling, and other abuses On its platforms. As part of this, last month, Meta added another official fact-checker to its third-party fact-checking program in Australia – RMIT FactLab. RMIT FactLab is a research division of RMIT University that exposes disinformation online. It also produces its research into digital news.
Meta says it will have invested $7 billion internationally (in Aussie terms) by 2021 in addressing issues with its platform and misinformation, election meddling, and online damage. It says Meta wants to stop abuses before they happen and not after they happen.
How does voting in federal elections work in Australia?
Voting can be done in person on Election Day, May 21, in the polling booths or by pre-polling and voting by post. It is mandatory for citizens over 18 to register to vote, so best familiarize yourself with the options to have your say this year.
Early voting in federal elections
If you cannot attend a polling station on Election Day, you can vote at an early station in Australia. The AEC’s website will provide a list of early voting centers. An eligibility checklist for early casting your Australian federal election vote is also available.
Voting by mail in federal elections
You can request a postal ballot to receive your ballot papers by post. You can apply online through the AEC website or by completing a postal voting application form available from AEC offices during election time.
Can I vote online?
No, but if you are blind or visually impaired, you can vote through the AEC’s telephone voting service.
We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available. The last update was made on May 16, 2022.