POLITICS

How To Vote, The Major Issues Condensed (And Where To Get Your Democracy Sausage)

Had your head in the sand for eight weeks? We've got you covered.

02/07/2016 7:42 AM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:56
Jason Reed / Reuters
For those hiding under a rock during the past eight weeks.

So you've treated the election like the exam of your least favourite subject. And now it has sprung up on you and you don't know what to look up first.

Well, lucky we've got your back.

Here's what you need to know about the parties, their promises and how to vote. Because yes, there have been a few changes. So we may as well start there. We'll get to the big stuff later.

How To Vote

Previously you could just number one box "above the line" on the senate ballot papers. Now you have to number all six. Alternatively, you can vote for individual senators "below the line". You used to be required to number more than 100 boxes, but now you only have to number just 12.

So these are the changes. Also, preferences. Every party has a way they want you to preference your votes in different electorates to help them. So take a 'how to vote' card from the party you support when you arrive at the polling booths. Heck, take one from every party if you damn well want.

Here's a really extensive piece on how to vote since the senate voting changes if you need more details.

Where and when to vote

Heaps of people have voted already, using pre-poll and postal voting systems.

If you're heading to the polls today, the AEC has a nifty search tool to show you where your nearest polling station is.

And you can check here whether your local booth has a sausage sizzle or a cake stall, or bless the patron saint of psephologists, both.

For nothing says 'thanks for voting, 'Straya' like a sausage wrapped in bread.

Polls open at 8am and close at 6pm sharp, local time.

The Major Parties' Key Policies

The Coalition's big policies lie in company tax cuts, income tax cuts, some significant reform to the superannuation scheme, a fibre to the node NBN and marriage equality (through a plebiscite) and NO changes to negative gearing.

The ALP is pledging significant investment in the health and education sector and will reform negative gearing (to halt any Aussies wanting to negatively gear investment properties from July 2017). Labor will deliver fibre to the premises NBN, marriage equality (through a parliamentary vote) and have not commented on superannuation reform (despite counting the Coalition's reform in their costings).

What You Might Care About

So we've broken down the big social issues like marriage equality, mental health, domestic violence, small businesses and homelessness for you. Essentially what the major parties are offering to tackle these issues.

Marriage equality has dominated the last week of the election. You either have the option of a plebiscite or conscience vote in parliament here. Labor are promising to have a parliamentary vote passed within the first 100 days of being elected. The Greens are backing a parliamentary vote too (both parties have actually already put bills to parliament). The Coalition will have a plebiscite if re-elected. This is basically a national poll to find out what Australians want which costs about $160 million in taxpayer funds. They will then have a conscience vote in Parliament. Ministers and senators don't have to vote in favour of the plebiscite outcome (so really, the plebiscite doesn't have any legislative impact) but Turnbull believes the vote will be in favour of marriage equality.

For more, read our extensive breakdown. Or plug your postcode into the Australian Marriage Equality site to find out where your local candidates stand.

Mental health has become a major issue highlighted in the campaign with both major parties announcing sizeable funding which was praised by experts. Before the election, everything was put back on the table to restructure the whole system. Turnbull announced more than $190 million to go to mental health services and suicide prevention. Earlier, $3 billion had been committed to mental health services in the budget with an additional $200 million to finish building 100 Headspaces around the country. The Labor party have committed to halve the rate of suicide in a decade and committed $72 million to introduce 12 regional suicide pilot projects and an extra $9 million for further suicide prevention funding. The Greens have committed $1.4 billion to tackle mental health.

For more, read our detailed summary.

Domestic Violence was brought into the campaign by tireless campaigner Rosie Batty. It's a big issue a lot of people care about when two women a week are being killed. The Coalition has delivered another $100 million to DV issues in the budget, with $30 million going towards community legal centres. Labor are delivering $88 million over two years to a new Safe Housing program for women. They've announced another $65 million to big research and awareness services, and $43 million to provide legal representation for every domestic violence victim. The Greens domestic violence funding is over $2 billion (with $5 billion over ten years). They aren't going to end up governing the country but their policy structure is extensive and is praised by DV experts.

We've got a really detailed breakdown of the policies here but the Coalition and ALP are delivering similar commitments (and remember the Coalition already put $100 million forward to tackle the issue in September).

Small Businesses will benefit from the Coalition's company tax cuts. Turnbull is making this issue a priority if re-elected and will reduce the tax rate for businesses earning under $10 million by 27.5 percent. Labor will also support this cut. Both the Coalition and Labor are not going to touch penalty rates leaving it up to the Fair Work Commission as an independent umpire. The Greens don't support company tax cuts.

For more, here's what's on offer for small business.

Homelessness hasn't been brought up much in this campaign, with the economy dominating the eight weeks. Neither the Coalition or Labor have recommitted to a major funding agreement to address homelessness which will end in June 2017. This is the National Partnership on Homelessness Agreement which makes up about one third of homelessness funding nationwide and was introduced by none other than Kevin '07 in (you guessed it) 2007. The ALP wants to halve homelessness by 2025, reform negative gearing and reduce the capital gains tax which they say will reduce housing prices. The Greens are pledging $4.8 billion over forward estimates to address homelessness.

For more, see this extensive look at the issues.

Now hit the polls!

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