Political experts and students discuss what matters this federal election

Pictured left to right: Matilda Boseley, Winuri de Alwis, Associate Professor Katrina Lee-Koo and Dr Zareh Ghazarian.

With last weekend’s federal election the first opportunity for many undergraduate students to vote, Monash Arts hosted “Australian Federal Election 2022: What Matters?” on Wednesday 11 May in the Learning and Teaching Building on Clayton campus.

The in-person event, “What Matters?” was an opportunity for Monash Arts students, alumni and the general public to raise the pressing issues concerning voters with a panel of experts. Guest speakers included Monash Politics and International Relations academics Associate Professor Katrina Lee-Koo and Dr Zareh Ghazarian, Monash alumna and Guardian Australia reporter Matilda Boseley, and Monash Arts/Law student Winuri de Alwis. The panel was moderated by Associate Professor Shane Homan, Head of the Monash School of Media, Film and Journalism.

The event commenced with a series of questions that set the political scene and explored the ins and outs of the election campaign so far. From the environment to the economy, each panel expert took a turn to explain their views on varying issues.

Associate Professor Lee-Koo was fascinated by the “silences” in this particular election cycle. With references to the pandemic, Indigenous rights and the underrepresentation of women and young people in politics, she urged the audience to consider “what’s not being talked about, and also who is not visible.” She added that the lack of representation may be the reason we are seeing certain political discourses.

Monash politics lecturer, and co-author of Australian Politics for Dummies, Dr Ghazarian provided commentary on some electorate specific issues. With the rise of teal independents in areas such as Kooyong and Goldstein, Dr Ghazarian noted that the major political parties may lose “future leaders” – an issue that will reverberate beyond the electorates.

Matilda, who completed a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) at Monash in 2018, discussed the role of social media this election season, more specifically how TikTok has gained significant prominence, with even the Prime Minister possessing an account.

The efforts made by politicians to engage with young people was a standout talking point on the night. Current student Winuri, herself a member of the youngest demographic of voters, noted that politicians were not doing enough to engage young people. This sentiment was shared by many of the students in the audience, who seemed eager to have their voices be heard.

The panel also addressed questions from the audience. One student quizzed our experts on the validity of opinion polls, given the last election saw them so wrong in their predictions. The panel noted that it’s an important election for opinion polls, and that if the polls were wrong this time around it would mean an arguably more diminished role for them going into the future.

Prior to hosting the event, Monash Arts conducted an informal survey of 100 Monash Arts students. The survey found that 69% of respondents had already decided on where their vote would be going on 21 May, with 85% having conducted independent research on party policies and leadership. 50% listed climate change as the one issue that matters most to them this election year. This was followed by cost of living/wages, selected by 19% of respondents, and integrity/corruption, selected by 9%.

A full breakdown of the survey can be found on our Monash Arts Instagram post.