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Three federal election questions answered by our experts

8 July 2016

As the vote count continues, experts from the University of Sydney contribute to some of the key debates surrounding the 2016 Federal Election.

With the Australian Electoral Commission continuing to count postal votes, the 2016 Federal Election has left Australia with uncertainties in terms of process and policy. During the week following the election, experts from the University of Sydney contributed to public discussion through the media. 

1. How did informal votes impact the election results?

During the last federal election in 2013, approximately 5.92 percent of ballots were informal and were set aside in accordance with the Australian Electoral Commission. In an election race as tight as the 2016 Federal Election has been, it is important to consider whether informal votes might impact on the election results.

Dr Peter Chen told that the possibility is marginal. “Most of those [informal votes] are probably in safer Labor seats than in marginal seats,” Dr Chen said.

An expert in Australian politics and political communication, Dr Chen said, “in a completely knife-edge election, they could certainly change the outcome."

2. What happens if there is a hung parliament?

With neither of the two major political parties winning the 76 seats needed to claim victory on election night, the question of how government will be formed has remained unclear.

Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Professor Anne Twomey explained that another election is unlikely for at least six months. Explaining the constitutional provisions of the system, Professor Twomey wrote, “The Prime Minister remains Prime Minister until such time as he resigns on behalf of the government.”

Professor Twomey, a constitutional law expert from Sydney Law School, said it would be “a serious breach of convention” were the Prime Minister to advise an election before parliament meets. “The outcome of an election must be respected and the parliament must be given an opportunity to meet and to see if it can function.”

3. Did the major parties win over women in the campaign?

Speaking to ABC Radio’s current affairs program PM, Dr Marian Baird from the University’s Business School said the major political parties failed to address and engage with the concerns of women during the 2016 campaign.

Director of the Women and Research Group at the University, Dr Baird told PM the lack of attention on childcare and paid parental leave during the campaign was concerning. “We no longer have a gender analysis of the budget, we must have that back in again, because that draws attention to how policies impact on different groups in society,” Dr Baird said

If Sydney Uni students were Prime Minister...