Australian Election

This Saturday all Australian citizens over the age of 18 who have enrolled with the Australian Electoral Commission have the responsibility to vote for who they want to represent them in the Federal Parliament.

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How often are federal elections held in Australia?

Federal elections are generally held every three years.  The Constitution specifies that the term of a Parliament is three years, and there is only a short period after the expiry of the parliamentary term before elections must be held. The exact timing of elections is usually up to the Prime Minister, who formally requests the dissolution of Parliament from the Governor-General. A Governor-General may refuse a request for an early dissolution of Parliament.  Elections in Australia are always held on a Saturday.

How does Australia’s voting system work?

Australia works on a preferential voting system.  This is a majority system where candidates must receive an absolute majority, 50% plus 1 of the total formal votes cast to be elected.

The term “preferential voting” means voters can indicate an order of preferences for candidates on the ballot paper, ie. who they want as their 1st choice, 2nd choice and so on.

This clip from BTN explains how it works:


When did women win the right to vote in Australia?

South Australia was the first colony to give women the right to vote in 1893, while Victoria was the last in 1908.  The first Federal election was held in 1901 but women weren’t allowed to vote.  They have been able to since the 2nd election in 1903.

Make my vote count!
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When did Indigenous Australians receive the right to vote?

This did not happen for all Indigenous Australians until 1962.

Aboriginal art
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: CameliaTWU via Compfight

Whilst our voting system might be complex it allows everyone to have their say.  The Parliamentary Education Office provides many great resources to help students understand Government and how it works.  This page outlines the process of an election.

What do you think people need to be aware of when they vote?

How do you feel about women and Indigenous Australians not always having the right to vote?