PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says setting the federal election date of September 14 will give “shape and order” to the year ahead.
It was among the reasons Ms Gillard put forward in her speech at the National Press Club in Canberra when she made the surprise election date announcement - a move which effectively counters ongoing speculation about when the next federal election will be held and kick-starts seven months of electioneering.
Ms Gillard said the election writs would be issued on August 12, allowing the current hung parliament to serve a full three-year term and provide certainty around the election date.
“I will advise the Governor-General to dissolve the House of Representatives with writs to be issued on Monday August 12 for an election for the House and half of the Senate, to be held on Saturday, September 14,” she said.
“I do not do so to start the nation’s longest election campaign.
“Quite the opposite, it should be clear to all which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning.
“Announcing the election date now enables individuals and business, investors and consumers, to plan their year.”
Ms Gillard said fixing the election date would enable the year be one “not of fevered campaigning but of cool and reasoned deliberation”.
She also laid out a challenge to the Coalition to use the abundant government resources at its disposal to help generate and release more policy detail, including its
“Australians aren’t interested in campaigns without content, platitudes devoid of purpose,” she said.
“There is now clearly the time and certainty necessary for the people and parties contesting the election to lay out their fully detailed, costed plans for the timely
consideration of voters.
“There’s plenty for this government to be getting on with – plenty of work to do for our nation.
“I will devote the days of governing to that work and then, at the time now fixed, to asking the Australian people to endorse my plan to keep building a strong, fair, smart nation.”
Ms Gillard said 2012 tried the patience of Australians with “months of boiling hot political debate” and most of that debate, “somewhat ironically” was about global warming.
“In 2013, I am determined their patience is not tried again,” she said.
“That policies and plans are at the centre of our national discourse.
“The principal concern of Australians isn’t what a day in 2013 means for the politics or timing of the election campaign, but what it means for the life of the nation.
“What does it mean for their job, their family, their future?
“Not everything about the tenor and temperature of debate this year is in my control.
“But I can act to clear away the carry-on that comes with speculation about when the election will be held.
“And I can act to create an environment in which the nation’s eyes are more easily focused on the policies not the petty politics.”
Ms Gillard said she consulted federal Independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott about the election date.
Both MPs issued media statements supporting the announcement.
Mr Windsor said the early announcement would help provide certainty and stability to all community sectors and mostly to the business community that often puts off decisions due to not knowing when an election is to be held.
“In the past, Australians have been frustratingly on ‘election alert’ for long periods of time and, in this ‘hung’ parliament, on the brink of an election from day one if you believe the Opposition Leader and some sections of the media,” he said.
“When I entered into my agreement to form government, a rough timeframe was set for September/October 2013 and I trusted the Prime Minister to honour that – something I didn’t trust the Opposition Leader to do.
“Previously too, Australians have had to put up with mini-campaigns and speculation up until the Prime Minister of the day saw a political opportunity to call the election.
“(This) announcement will remove the media speculation of a date and reduce the space devoted to the hype surrounding the choice of a date usually until six weeks before an election.”
Mr Windsor said a full term of the Parliament was needed to address the big issues like the Clean Energy Future, The Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the rollout of the National Broadband Network.
He said the hung Parliament had achieved those important reforms and also been good for regional Australia.
“I am pleased to have been part of the process that has helped lay the foundations for future benefits to flow to the New England and regional Australia,” he said.
Mr Oakeshott said with nine more important sitting weeks remaining of this Parliament, the challenge was to use that time focussing on ongoing policy and reform details, like the Gonski education reforms.
“Campaigning and electioneering throughout these nine final sitting weeks, while this detailed work is being done, should be seen for what it is – serving the interests of political parties, not the interests of the nation,” Mr Oakeshott said.
Betting agency sportsbet.com.au has opened markets on all 150 electorates ahead of this year’s federal election, with the Coalition favourites in 91 seats and the ALP in 54, while Tony Abbott’s Coalition are $1.35 favourites and Labor $3.30 outsiders.