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The Upcoming Federal Election

The Upcoming Federal Election

With the 2019 Federal Election coming up this Saturday (May 18th), we thought it would be a good idea to check back in with politics guru John Slater to talk us through all things relevant to voting on election day. If you need a bit of a refresh (or have no idea) on how the aussie politics system actually works, take a listen to John’s first episode - Episode 8.  Otherwise settle in for 26 minutes or a short blog post where we chat about what you need to think about in the upcoming election, how the voting system works and how your vote counts.

Firstly...What/who are we voting for?

Hopefully you are aware it is a federal election.  You will get two ballot papers when you go to your local voting centre on Saturday. The first will be for your local member which is the person who represents you in the House of Representatives (these are often the guys out on the streets giving you a wave around election time). The second paper is for the Senate, where you are voting for the senator to represent you (Episode 8 explains what these two houses are). If you want to find out more about the senators who you could potentially be voting for, facebook is a really good place to go. Otherwise reading the Australian, Sydney Morning Herald or AFR. The thing about the senate is that it is based on proportional representations, meaning if one party got 40% of votes, they would get 40% of the senators up for election.

What is preferential voting and how does it work?

For both papers you receive at the polling booth, you will have to number preferences for all applications. This is called preferential voting. Often when you go to vote, parties will hand you a ‘how to vote’ flyer which shows how to put your preference in favour for that party. This is useful if you support one particular party if you trust their judgement. But it is also important to make your own decisions.

Preferential voting basically means votes will keep being reallocated until one party has 50%. The logic behind this is that the winning party will be the one not only with the most popular support (people voting 1) but the candidate who is the most agreeable for the public. One criticism of having to put a number against every party is that it makes you choose between the two larger parties. However it allows the system to take into account who we do like but also who we don’t like. One of the biggest reason for invalid votes is because people don’t number all boxes so keep this in mind when voting.

How do you work out where you can vote and what your electorate is?

You are best off checking the AEC website by logging in and checking where you are enrolled for…..But despite this usually you can vote at any polling booth regardless if you are registered there. Keep in mind you can also vote any time this week, you don’t have to go in on the 18th. Remember that if you don’t vote, you will receive a fine from the AEC (however this can often be waived by providing a valid reason).

Should you use Vote Compass?

Vote Compass works by asking you some questions about your views, and then providing a map of where you your views sit against the running parties. Vote Compass can be a good way to expose yourself to the general issues in contest and the difference between the main parties, particularly if you are fairly disengaged with politics. But it is not a guide telling you how to vote, so it’s a good idea to use it as just a starting point.  There can often be contestable assumptions in the questions given, which is important to keep in mind.

How can you work out if you are in a marginal seat?

Seat classification is  based on the results for that seat from the last election. A marginal seat basically means only a very small amount of voters need to change their mind in the upcoming election for a different candidate to win. If you look at where you are registered on the AEC website, it will tell you which seat you are in, and then you can simply google the seat to check out how marginal it is.

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