The ABC has told independent member of parliament Zali Steggall that independents do not meet the criteria for inclusion in the ABC Vote Compass, an online survey tool allowing voters to see how their views align to established political parties.
Steggall lodged a complaint with the ABC on April 26, which was also published on Twitter by the MP discussing the non-inclusion of independents in the Vote Compass. It expressed concern that her supporters in the seat of Warringah, which she took over from former prime minister Tony Abbott in 2019, are unable to indicate a preference for her as a candidate in the online survey.
She said this non-inclusion of independents impacts the ability of any supporters of independents to indicate a direct preference for an independent standing in a seat.
Steggall also pointed to the charter of the national broadcaster and said she believed Vote Compass did not meet standards of accuracy and impartiality specified in the charter.
A response from the ABC was forthcoming the next day and on its website the national broadcaster said independents did not meet the criteria for specific inclusion.
“Any political party or coalition of political parties with at least 5% nationwide support in recent, recognised and published independent polls will be included in Vote Compass if it meets the following conditions: it is registered under the relevant electoral authority; it is likely to field candidates in a majority of constituencies; and it has a fully developed policy platform,” the ABC said.
“Independent candidates do not meet the inclusion criteria for Vote Compass. It would also be impractical at present to curate and validate the individual responses to each of the 30 propositions in Vote Compass for every independent candidate registered with the Australian Electoral Commission with the same rigour that has been applied to the parties that are currently included.”
The ABC also said voters who are considering casting a vote for an independent are able to select a category called ‘independent candidate’ in the survey but no independent candidate is included by name.
Steggall also highlighted the absence of a question on an integrity commission, but the ABC lobbed a response back stating the issue was a question of the day.
The response to that question was, according to the ABC, also covered in stories published online about voter concerns about integrity and corruption.