Australia, Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly Elections: October 17, 2020 and Queensland Legislative Assembly Elections: October 31, 2020, Western Australia State Elections: March 13, 2021, and New South Wales Local Elections: September 2021 (due)

Democracy sausages being grilled during Queensland’s 2017 elections. Photo credit: Wikipedia/Kerry Raymond (CC BY 4.0)

KEY FACTS
Freedom House Rating

Free
Government Type
Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy (a Commonwealth realm)
Population
25.5 million
UPCOMING ELECTIONS
Australian Capital Territory State Elections
October 17, 2020
Queensland State Elections
October 31, 2020
Western Australia State Elections
March 13, 2021
New South Wales Local Elections
September 2021 (due)
Parliamentary Elections
Federal Parliamentary Elections
On or before September 3, 2022
PAST ELECTIONS
Northern Territory State Elections
August 22, 2020
Federal Parliamentary Elections

May 18, 2019
New South Wales State Elections
March 23, 2019

Australia is set to hold two sets of state elections in October 2020: the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on October 17 and Queensland on October 31. Additionally, Western Australia holds state elections on March 13, 2021, and New South Wales is due to hold local elections in September 2021.

Australia has several states, each of which elects its own state legislature and has its own state government that has significant devolved powers. The state government is the middle level of government, sitting between the federal government and local governments. Elections for state and local governments take place at various times throughout the year, and by law not on the same day as federal elections.

Political Context

Australia is a democracy that holds regular elections for all three levels of government (federal, state, and local), with regular transitions of power between different political parties. Voting is compulsory.

Australia’s two biggest parties are the center-right Liberal Party and center-left Labor Party (sometimes referred to as ALP). The Liberals pulled out a surprise victory in the May 2019 federal elections, even though pre-election polling had consistently predicted a Labor victory. Scott Morrison thus remained prime minister, and the coalition government with the agrarian center-right National Party continued.

Queensland State Political Context

Queensland, home to Australia’s third-biggest city of Brisbane, currently has a Labor government and has been something of a Labor stronghold, although not monolithically. Although Labor has won most elections in the state since 1989, the Liberal National Party (LNP – Queensland’s Liberal and National parties merged in 2008) won the 2012 elections, and the 2015 elections delivered a hung parliament (although Labor subsequently formed a minority government). Moreover, the LNP did particularly well in Queensland during the 2019 federal elections, winning a number of marginal seats, to the surprise of some observers. However, Labor soundly won Queensland’s 2017 elections.

Nonetheless, some polling suggests that the LNP has the advantage in the upcoming elections, despite incumbent Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s high approval ratings. The outcome of the election is very much still an open question.

Australian Capital Territory Political Context

Labor has governed the ACT for the last 19 years (although currently in coalition with the Greens). The last election was close, giving Labor 12 seats, the Liberals 11, and the Greens two. Furthermore, the Greens have said they would consider forming a coalition with the Liberals following the 2020 elections. The Liberals are campaigning on pocketbook issues, declaring the election “a referendum on the cost of living.”

Curated News and Analysis

Peter van Onselen, The Australian (August 11, 2020): Queensland election 2020: State poll a test of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s popularity

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Updated September 13, 2020

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