July 1

The date of the election

When will the election be? At this stage of the electoral cycle, the Governor-General will no doubt accept the advice of the Prime Minister. 

The former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had indicated that she would be advising the Governor-General that the election should be held on 14 September.

But now we have a new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who previously held office from the election in 2007 until he resigned at the behest of the ALP in 2010. He now clearly enjoys the confidence of the House.

The Constitution indicates that an election for both the House and half the Senate could be held within a narrow range of dates, that is between 3 August and 30 November, 2013.


A particular problem for the Prime Minister is the government's local government referendum. This was passed by Parliament on 27 June. And under the Constitution, the vote cannot be held until two months have elapsed from that date.

This would suggest that an election and the referendum vote could be held on 24 August. But the Solicitor General has advised the Electoral Commission that an extra 18 days has to be fitted in. This is because of pre-polling.

 This means that the earliest possible date for the vote on the referendum will be 14 September. It is of course most unlikely that the Prime Minister would propose holding a referendum on one day and election on another. The cost would be considerable, apart from the inconvenience and annoyance to electors.

One solution would be to abandon the referendum, but those supporting it would not be very happy. It was supported by the opposition but with some members and Senator Madigan, the Democratic Labor Party Senator, crossing the floor to vote against the bill.

…a late election?..

There are other considerations that the Prime Minister is bearing in mind. One is that the holiest day in the Jewish Calendar, Yom Kippur, falls on 14 September. Then there is the G 20 meeting in Russia on 5 and 6 September. The AFL and RFL grand finals are on 28 September.

Writing in The Australian Financial Review on 29-30 June, Jacob Greber suggests that Mr Rudd may choose to delay an election to maximise the opportunity to rebuild the government’s case. But this may irritate the business community and the many who would like to see an early election.


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