Budgets and Debates – The Chatter from Higgins

Swinburne has turned to Talkwalker again this week to reveal who is talking about Higgins and what are the most popular topics being discussed online. Between the 1st and the 7th of April, we can see peaks of conversation occurring around the Liberal budget announcement, Labor’s budget reply, as well as Greens Candidate, Jason Ball’s call for a climate change debate.

During this time period, we searched for the term ‘Higgins’ in Australia only and eliminated irrelevant topics to provide data from mainstream news outlets, Facebook and Twitter.

Discussions mentioning ‘Higgins’ were found to be used by males predominantly, with females falling behind by almost 20%. However, it is positive to note that while 25 to 34-year olds are dominating the conversation, those aged 18-24 and 35+ are also having their say. It’s apparent that if candidates are wanting to succeed, they should be targeting Gen Z all the way back to Gen X and the Baby Boomers.

On Tuesday night, Liberal treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the government expects a $7.1 billion-dollar surplus over the next financial year, however Labor isn’t convinced. The Liberal Party, if elected has promised a budget that includes tax cuts to low and middle-income earners, increased funding for health care (including cheaper GP visits and new drugs listed on the PBS), $2,000 incentives for apprentices and relief for those affected by droughts and floods.

Incentives for first home buyers and new money for the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef and Australian universities were all features that did not appear in the Liberal Party’s 19/20 budget.

Australia’s climate change solution also faced a cut of $70 million per year, an issue that has caused a local stir this week in Higgins. Talkwalker has found that the term ‘climate debate’ has been mentioned 174 times after Greens candidate, Jason Ball publicly challenged Liberal candidate Dr Katie Allen to a debate on climate change.

A word map of all of the most common words mentioned last week demonstrates the level of attention Ball’s challenge received, with ‘katie4higgins’, ‘climate’, ‘refusing’ and ‘debate’ among those words mentioned most frequently. Despite her support for the debate, Labor candidate, Fiona McLeod, has decreased in mentions during this time.

Dr Allen has refused to accept the Green candidate’s invitation and appears not to have discussed the issue on any social media platform. No matter the outcome, it’s obvious that this challenge has sparked a conversation on the Liberals’ stance on climate change as the election draws near.

Last week’s data show that national topics and a proposed local debate have inspired people to take discussion to Facebook and Twitter to develop a public discourse. The social reach these media enable will continue to play an increasingly important role in the lead up to the election, and data capture will aim to detect it all.