Australia to hold federal election on Sept. 14
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a surprise announcement on Wednesday that the country 's federal election will be held on September 14.
Gillard made clear of the election date during an address to the National Press Club in Canberra. The prime minister had been talking about the government's economic and educational plans before announcing the polling date on which all seats of the 150- strong House of Representative and half seats of the 76-strong Senate will be put to vote.
Sky News commented that it's unprecedented to announce the election date so early, leaving major parties with almost eight months to prepare for the poll.
ABC election analyst Antony Green said he didn't believe an election had been announced this far ahead before in Australia.
"Until 1990 it was common for the election date to be announced to the parliament and then sometimes the parliament would sit for a week or two until the writ was issued and parliament dissolved," he said.
Parliament resumes next week and there are about nine sitting weeks before September 14.
Gillard, leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), said she wanted to avoid constant speculation of the likely date of the poll during an election year. Instead, she wanted certainty and stability for Australian businesses and politics.
"I can act so Australia's parliament and government serves their full three-year term, so it is clear and certain when the election will be held," Gillard said.
"So today I announce that I will advise the Governor-General to dissolve the House of Representatives and issue the writs on Monday, August 12 for an election for the House and half the Senate to be held on Saturday, the 14th of September."
"I do so not to start the nation's longest election campaign, quite the opposite," Gillard said. "It should be clear to all which are the days of governing, and which are the days of campaigning."
"It gives shape and order to the year, and enables it to be one not of fevered campaigning, but of cool and reasoned deliberation, " she said.
Some local TV commentators said Gillard's move is to show that she is tough and in control and not to be pushed by anybody. Since last weekend, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has started a so- called mini-campaign.
Gillard admitted that she talked to independent MP Tony Winsor and Rob Oakeshott about the election date last night. The two independent MPs welcomed the announcement, saying the September 14 date is in keeping with the agreement they made for a September or October election with Gillard after the 2010 election.
Winsor and Oakeshott are key figures in forming the current minority government since neither the ALP nor the Opposition secured the majority of seats required to form a government in their own right in the 2010 federal election. The support by three independent MPS, including Winsor and Oakeshott, and a Greens member enabled Gillard to form the current government.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's office has yet to respond to the announcement. But shadow treasurer Joe Hockey is concerned about the state of the budget which a coalition government might inherit.
"Election on Sept. 14 is before the final budget outcome is revealed for the current year," he tweeted.