Photo: The losers from this
are political pundits robbed of endless speculation on when the election will be
held (AAP) (AAP: Alan Porritt)
Julia Gillard's early election announcement
follows the trend towards certainty seen across Westminster governments and robs
political pundits of their chance to speculate, writes Antony Green.
In announcing the date of the 2013 federal election
as September 14, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has given the longest notice of an
election, certainly since 1943, but probably since federation.
Robert Menzies gave three months notice of the 1958
and 1961 elections, but giving eight months must be a new record.
It is certainly longer than the one day's
notice Malcolm Fraser gave in 1983. There will be no excuses for voters
failing to update their enrolment at this year's election.
Of course, there is still an outside possibility the
election could be earlier. The government could lose an important vote in the
House and be forced to resign. There could be a change of Labor leadership, and
any new leader may choose to adopt a different election date. But the prospects
of a change from the September 14 timeline looks unlikely.
It is certainly no longer in the Coalition's interest
to call for an early election. An election before August 3 would be for the
House of Representatives and four Territory senators only. If the Coalition won
an early election, it would be stuck with a hostile Senate that needed an
election in early 2014, an unattractive prospect for any government one year
into its term.
In giving so much notice of the election date, the
Prime Minister follows a growing trend in democracies that base their
parliamentary system on the UK Parliament in Westminster.
In Australia, four states and the two territories
already have fixed election dates. Only Queensland, Tasmania and the Federal
Parliament still have variable terms where the head of government determines the
Many Canadian provinces have adopted fixed terms, as
has the current UK government, with prime minister David Cameron
having already announced the date of the 2015 election.
In 2011, New Zealand prime minister John Key
gave nine months' notice of his country's election to avoid speculation on the
election clashing with the Rugby World Cup.
In taking this step, Julia Gillard has departed from
the tradition that has developed in Australia since 1990 of prime ministers
announcing an election on the weekend before the resumption of
parliamentary sitting with a minimum notice of weeks. (Or the six-week
campaign the sitting schedule forced John Howard to adopt in 2004 and
Before 1990, it was normal for the prime minister to
announce the date of the election to Parliament after a visit to the
Governor-General, and for Parliament to sit after the election date was
announced. Formal campaigning would not begin until the writ was issued two or
three weeks later.
Only the 1983 snap double dissolution departed from
this tradition. When Bob Hawke reverted to the parliamentary announcement of an
election date for 1984 and 1987, he was criticised for creating an overlong
campaign. In 1990, he began the new tradition of announcing an election on a
weekend with a minimum campaign.
Now Julia Gillard has gone to the opposite extreme.
Instead of trying to catch the opposition out short of detail with a snap poll,
the Prime Minister has set out a road map to polling day, giving the Opposition
plenty of time to announce policy.
The losers from this are political pundits
robbed of endless speculation on when the election will be held.
The winners, the poor cameramen and journalists who
will not have to spend fruitless weekends sitting outside the governor-general's
residence on the off-chance that the Prime Minister will drive up.
This article was first published on Antony
Green's Election Blog.
Antony Green is the ABC's election analyst. View
his full profile here.
Topics: federal-elections, gillard-julia,
14 September snap: alias TURE
30 Jan 2013 4:15:44pm
I think one can pay $280 or there around to get back the
status of Permanent Resident of Australia, and that would be a possibility for
not voting at all.
That is one great option one have in a
What is the point doing so, you may ask.
Well, that is one
"excuse" for voters to not vote, and not getting a penalty either.
it could be a million votes loss.
A new political party later constituted
by more than a million Permanent Residents of Australia can actually be
Reply Alert moderator
30 Jan 2013 4:26:03pm
Hillary and Julia now have spectacles of the same design.
Could it be a coincidence, I think, I think not !
The questions are, can
they really see what is behind and beyond them around the election
Reply Alert moderator
- 14 September snap: alias TURE
30 Jan 2013 4:35:35pm
My third thought would be; will we after the election still
have all the old "sandbags" in the Parliament or will the election lead to a
renewal of the Australian Politics, to something more vital and fresh, and
even a kinda "revolution for the good", to our nation?
Reply Alert moderator