In this paper, we explore the use of Twitter as a political tool in the 2013 Australian Federal Election. We employ a ‘big data’ approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis. By tracking the accounts of politicians and parties, and the tweeting activity to and around these accounts, as well as conversations on particular hashtagged topics, we gain a comprehensive insight into the ways in which Twitter is employed in the campaigning strategies of different parties. We compare and contrast the use of Twitter by political actors with its adoption by citizens as a tool for political conversation and participation. Our study provides an important longitudinal counterpoint, and opportunity for comparison, to the use of Twitter in previous Australian federal and state elections. Furthermore, we offer innovative methodologies for data gathering and evaluation that can contribute to the comparative study of the political uses of Twitter across diverse national media and political systems.