Election 2022

“Older voters tend to die off”

With the federal election just days away, the major parties are looking to new methods of campaigning. 

TikTok is being used to grab the attention of many young voters with the Liberals, Greens and Labor all actively using the app. 

Honorary lecturer at the University of New South Wales Mark Rolfe says social media platforms such as TikTok have become a crucial campaign tool in this election.

“With the fragmentation of political news and the proliferation of a variety of sources this can only mean that young people, those under 35, are going to be finding their information in new ways from new sources,” he says. 


Shoutout to the @Australian Greens for the election memes #fyp #2021election #australiangreens @Australian Labor Party @australianyounggreens @Liberal Party of Australia

♬ original sound – miah
An example of the election content being produced by the parties. Video: Ruby Devlin.

Dr Rolfe says the parties are using TikTok memes to reach younger voters.

“You’ve got new media for old purposes,” he says.

“Humour being, to use that word, weaponised…it’s now a party political weapon.”

He says it’s more important than ever to fight for the votes of young people. 

“If you grab them now, they will stay down the line and stay with the party.”

In the 2019 federal election 15 per cent of young people aged 18-24 voted for the Liberal party, whereas 44 per cent of young people voted for the Labor party.

“The Labor Party has been chasing a section of the demographic, the under 35s, where it sees an advantage,” he says. 

Dr Rolfe says ageing liberal voters are an issue for the Coalition.

“Older voters tend to die off. They have a habit that way,” he says. 

“They die off and they need new supporters.” 

A TikTok produced for the 2022 election by student journalists from the Western Independent. Video: Ruby Devlin.

TikTok is not the only way politicians are reaching voters with some turning to WeChat, a Chinese app, which launched in 2011.

According to The Guardian there are 3 million Australians, many of whom are a part of the Chinese Australian community, actively using the hybrid messaging app as a means of communication. 

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has bought advertising space on WeChat in an effort to recruit volunteers for his campaign.

Labor politicians, including Anthony Albanese, have also created accounts on the platform. 

Self-employed Chinese Australian Jess, who did not wish to use her full name, says most Chinese Australians use WeChat to keep in contact with family overseas. 

“We don’t talk about politics,” she says.

“I believe most Chinese people don’t really care.”

The ABC has reported the spread of misinformation on WeChat ahead of the election.

It reported Liberal supporters have been caught saying Labor supporters and critics of the Prime Minister are being investigated by Australian authorities for interfering with the election. 

The messages were sent in Chinese and have been spread through group chats, reaching thousands of undecided voters in the eastern states.

Jess says with the influx of political posts has led her to research more.

“I can’t trust all the information… you have to ask where the source comes from,” she says. 

With political campaigning spreading to all corners of the internet, Dr Rolfe says social media platforms are becoming more and more appealing to the major parties. 

“There’s always the attraction of new technology, new forms of tech and the idea that form is going to be better than the old form.”