Gillard names date for autumn election


Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard has announced that the country’s federal election will be held on Saturday, September 14th.

Ms Gillard, the Labor Party leader, made the surprise announcement while addressing media at the national press club in the capital, Canberra.

“I do so not to start the nation’s longest election campaign – quite the opposite,” she said. “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 says she will ask Australia’s governor general, Quentin Bryce, to issue writs to dissolve parliament on Monday, August 12th.

Australia’s federal elections are held every three years. Ms Gillard said she wanted to avoid the “carry on” that arose from constant speculation of the likely poll date in an election year.

The announcement came a day before opposition Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott was expected to make major policy announcements. Upon hearing the news, Mr Abbott immediately flew from Melbourne to Canberra. At a hastily convened press conference, he said the election would be about trust.

“Who do you trust to reduce cost of living pressures?” he said. “Who do you trust to boost small business and to boost job security, and who do you trust to secure our borders?”

Sport-mad nation

In a sport-mad nation, the election will come during one of the busiest periods of the sporting calendar. The Australian Rules football and rugby league play-offs will be on, as will the fourth Ashes cricket test between Australia and England.

Some Liberal politicians have expressed concern that the election falls on Yom Kippur, the most sacred Jewish religious day. Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, who is Catholic but represents a strongly Jewish community in Sydney, used Twitter to say he was “deeply disappointed that Julia Gillard chose to hold the election on Yom Kippur – the most solemn and sacred day of the Jewish year”.