The Great Debate on May 8 saw discussions on the cost of living, rising interest rates, debt and housing, aged care crisis, treatment of women and gender equality, and national security issues, particularly the Asia-Pacific.
However, not all students and voters enjoy the debate format, nor grown men talking over one another, battling to have the final say. Instead, many look to social media posts for a snapshot of election priorities and promises.
Both current Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese have utilised their social media platforms to impart their election aspirations to as many audiences as possible. Here, I analyse both leaders’ social media campaigns will focus on Instagram as it is used by 30.1% of 18-24 year olds, the age bracket containing most university students, per the Global State of Digital 2022 report.
For the duration of 9 April to 9 May 2022, Instagram posts were categorised to produce data on the relative frequency of these themes across profiles. These data are presented in Figure 1. Note that posts may be subject to overlap and only the frequency of each phrase in the captions are compared, not imagery or videos.
Posts began with captions “Why I love Australia” until “We’re keeping Australians safe”, as he hopes to continue in an additional term as Prime Minister based on his performance and ‘better the devil you know’ catchphrase. From Figure 1 we see his captions frequently focused on ‘employment,’ healthcare,’ ‘national security and defence,’ and ‘manufacturing.’
Based on this data analysis, Liberals are proving less willing to address key concerns that plague Australia today, and will continue to avoid them in the immediate future. Morrison’s campaign accurately recaptures the policy of the Liberal/National Coalition over the last decade or so, and is not moving forwards in areas beyond the business, defence and economic sectors.
Noticeably missing in comparison to Albanese and Labor, were ‘supporting the arts,’ ‘gender pay gap and equality,’ ‘climate change and clean energy,’ and ‘anti-corruption.’ These are all crucial issues concerning our generation, and future generations. The lack of any mention of ‘anti-corruption’ reinforce Morrison’s own dubious claim that he has not witnessed corruption in the Liberal Party on his watch.
As such, there is an overt difference between the two leaders. Morrison ignores criticism of his previous policies and statements, demonstrating a stagnant approach in his leadership. Albanese, based on his usage of the key phrases, is more responsive to the concerns of the Australian public such as the increased cost of living and the climate.
Albanese’s posts begin at “A better future for all Australians” ending at “Only Labor has a plan to lift wages”. Contrary to popular belief, Albanese has had the economy and future as one of his main talking points even while many criticise his ability to drive the economy. Unsurprisingly, the Liberals have once more adopted this as a key critique of their opponent.
Excluding the word ‘future,’ ‘healthcare’ is the top focus, followed by ‘employment, wages and job security,’ as well as ‘climate change and clean energy,’ and ‘cost of living.’
Common posts for both included visiting electoral areas, religious ceremonies, regional communities, the debates, and slogans of encouragement to vote for their respective campaigns. Not to mention Anthony Albanese’s dog, and his affinity for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, as well as Scott Morrison’s dedication to the Cronulla Sharks, homemade curries, and his wife Jenny’s ‘common-sense’ advice.
Additionally, I have analysed the last 10 posts as of 9 May around three broad foci: economic, political, and personal character. Posts were sorted according to the dominant focus to simplify the results. For example, while defence and security can relate to the ‘political,’ in Morrison’s case it is more applicable to the ‘economic’ category as it focuses on employment and investment, or his image of Perth’s landscape, captioned with the intention to outline economic plans, also counts as ‘economic.’
Overall, both leaders’ content has been very similar, attempting to answer the main questions dominating electoral discourse: personal character, political decision-making and/or regarding their respective political parties and proposed plans for the economy. However, Albanese has emphasised several key areas completely neglected by Morrison and the Liberal Party. His mentions of the climate, gender pay equality, and anti-corruption help explain the greater focus on the non-economic political priorities of Labor. However, the economy will be on the minds of many students as they enter the workforce with higher debt, fewer jobs, and a higher cost of living.
Based on this analysis and the focus of the Labor campaign, Albanese is more concerned with addressing issues like healthcare, low wages, and climate change. Whilst many may feel like they do not know Albanese as a politician adequately, one third posts are dedicated towards bridging this gap of unfamiliarity for voters. We do not just need policy from a leader, but vision and morale-building too Morrison’s social media presence is offering the same as what we usually get from the Liberals. If you think it’s time for something new, then the data above speak for themselves.