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Gillard’s D-Day: PM calls election for Sep 14

Julia Gillard has shocked Canberra by naming the election date, with Australians to go to the polls on September 14. It will pressure Tony Abbott to release costed policy.

Australia will go to the polls on September 14 after Prime Minister Julia Gillard unexpectedly used her first major speech of the year to announce the date, intending to provide greater certainty and allay voter alienation about incessant speculation.

The unusual tactic — surrendering the traditional prime ministerial initiative in relation to the calling of elections — came toward the end of a speech intended to set the course for the political year. Gillard says she wants to avoid Australians being forced to endure “a guessing game”.

The announcement will ramp up pressure on the Coalition to begin releasing costed policies, with considerable focus on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s perceived negativity and lack of policy substance as he prepares for a similar National Press Club speech tomorrow.

Gillard’s speech — which didn’t mention the opposition or Tony Abbott at all — offered a nuanced perspective on one of the issues likely to be important through until election day: cost of living pressures.

The Prime Minister reflected on flat house prices, lower superannuation returns, a high savings rate, increasing commuting times and the contrast with the pre-GFC era of constantly rising consumption. She also reflected on how governments are doing it tough because revenue keeps missing forecasts, and how business may simply have to get used to a high dollar that refuses to succumb to the gravity exerted by declining terms of trade and an inevitable decline in mining investment.

While lacking substantial detail, particularly about the structural savings to the budget that are needed to pay for education reform, disability insurance and other promises, it was a more honest policy speech than we’re used to getting from national leaders, and reflects the stated intention of the Prime Minister to focus more on policy and on governing than on politics.

If only that were so. Meanwhile, over to Tony Abbott, who is doubtless rewriting tomorrow’s Press Club speech right now.

*Read the full speech from Julia Gillard

35
  • 1
    Jimmy
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Interesting move from Gillard, but the definite upside is the ability to shine a light earlier on Abbott’s lack of policy and lack of costings.

    It also puts here firmly on the front foot.

    Now if only the media would start asking Tony to flesh out his policy things might get interesting.

  • 2
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Our PM Gillard once again shows what a gutsy and focused woman she is.
    We are served very well by this woman, even after experiencing the avalanche of political and personal abuse and tripe that has been thrown at her, she can forego the political opportunism and perogrative of calling the forthcoming election at the most incovenient time for the opposition.
    If the nation focuses and recognises her forthrightness, the nation can dispense with the wilful, lying and vacuous Abbott at last

  • 3
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Exacerbating Abbott’s pre(mature) election problems.

  • 4
    MJPC
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Anything that forces the LNP to divulge their idustrial relations policy has to be a plus.

  • 5
    Katie Lee
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I can see the potential benefits of a looooong election campaign, but…oh God, 8 months of election ads? I won’t be able to watch commercial TV for most of the year.

  • 6
    Ian
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy@1

    The questions will not be asked of Abbott. Journalists, being corrupt, compromised and not altogether very bright, will not ask them.

    One day we may have a brave journalist who understands the creed..” honesty is its own reward”…but don’t count on it in yours or my lifetimes.

  • 7
    Scott
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s a bit of a stupid move by Gillard. One of the advantages of being in Government for an election is you get to choose the date (so your machine can have all your ducks in a row ready to go) while the opposition plays catch up. She has decided to throw away this advantage for some reason. A bit silly in my opinion
    On the plus side, at least it gets her boyfriend’s asian fantasies out of the media cycle…

  • 8
    Jimmy
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Katie Lee - “oh God, 8 months of election ads?” Judging from Abbott’s efforts on Sunday night we may have had that anyway. But in reality neither party has the funds for that - the libs will just have to rely on news ltd giving them the same free ride they have had for the past 5 years. The last month or so has been terrible, Peta Credlin, Abbott and the kids, today in Melb it was Abbott’s vision for Vic, complete with him calling Melb his second home.

    Ian - I think you may be right but hope that surely Abbott can’t go through the whole next 8 months without appearing on 7.30, lateline or Q&A?

  • 9
    Stephen Paul
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    It is not just the coalition who may have to start concentrating on policy, may be the media might start as well. From my reading of comments on Gillards speech at the Press Club it appears the media is solely concentrating on when the election is to be held and totally ignoring the substance of the speech.

  • 10
    Jimmy
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Scott - I think the advantage of waiting would of been minimal, the Libs would of been expecting an election in either September or October, given Footy Finals etc they would planned for a worse case scenario of early Sept, so they would of been ready to go.
    What Gillard actually has done is use her governmental advantage very early, calling the date now, catching the opposition off guard and giving all the talking heads two less topics to discuss that aren’t policy related, the first being “I predict the election to be X” or “The election could be as early as X” and the second topic is the leadership debate, no one will be able to mount an argument that Rudd is challenging now the election has been called.
    It also forces the Libs to keep Abbott, the best thing the ALP has going for it now is Abbott’s terrible popularity, any chances of a last minute switch to Turnbull to get them over the line if poll continue too tighten has been taken from them.

  • 11
    Ian
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy@7

    With the notable exception of a couple of independent internet sites there would not be a msm journo with the very necessary internal strength, ethics, morality or courage to go against the groupthink.

    An example….Who’s paying Ashbys’ legal bills? If it’s pro-bono?….Why?

    Not even Abbott would be silly enough to front for a very public Jones or Uhlman groin massage.

  • 12
    The Pav
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Scott

    Normally you would be right but I think this is a totally different paradigm therefore it makes sense to do something different.

    I don’t know if it will work but lets face it Abbott’s just been running a campaign since the last election instead of a credible opposition so there’s no change there other than he can’t now get away with the usual line of saying I’ll release my real policies when the election is on.

    Remember last time when they couldn’t add up but it came out too late for people to realise

    The other thing is it will throw responsibility onto the media to be more rigourous as it is now an election statement not the normal grandstanding

    Interesting move, possibly smart and perhaps people will be glad of the forewarning

    Getting my passport done up right now

  • 13
    Scott
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    There was never going to be a switch to Turnbull. While the secret wet dream of a lot of lefties, Malcolm never have any power or support from the right wing of the Liberal party. The Nationals were also not fans.
    Abbott is, and has always been, the Coalitions best hope of victory as he has the support of both left and right wings of the party. The nutters love him, and the moderates can deal with him.
    I’d be surprised if he doesn’t romp home to victory in September (the polls certainly appear to be leaning that way…if you track the 4 poll averages, there hasn’t been a lot of movement from 52/48 the coalitions way in a long time)

  • 14
    Jimmy
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Ian - I completely agree there are questions to be asked on Ashby (interestingly in the age a couple of weeks back there was an article asking why the media hadn’t followed up on the Ashby saga so it might bound back once parliament resumes and holidays end).
    But you only have to look at Abbott’s performances on 7.30 et el and look at how often he does them to see that even if they don’t really ask the hard questions even the slightly harder questions are too much for him.
    And the group think could change, if the story starts to become more about Abbott and what sort of govt he wold lead, or perhaps even about “could Abbott lose the unlosable election” if the polls close.

    Not holding out much hope but you have to have some.

    The Pav you better book you tickets early, I think if Abbott gets in there will be an exodus.

  • 15
    Jimmy
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    There was never going to be a switch to Turnbull. While the secret wet dream of a lot of lefties, Malcolm never have any power or support from the right wing of the Liberal party” If it got to June and polls were 50-50 or God forbid 51-49 Alp it might not have been Turnbull but there would of been some measuring up being done.

    if you track the 4 poll averages, there hasn’t been a lot of movement from 52/48 the coalitions way in a long time)” 52-48 is pretty good for the govt at this time, they have only got positive policies left to implement, Abbott has some massive budget problems, Newman’s & Balli eu’s slide will continue, the Carbon Tax will get less of an issue and who knows what will happen with Ashby and at some point voters might actually start thinking about what they would be voting in rather than what they are voting out.

    There have been a lot of Govt’s who have won from 48-52 at this point in the cycle.

  • 16
    geomac62
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    The gormless grin on Howards face as toyed with journos asking for an election date used annoy me no end . I see no real advantage or disadvantage for the PM to set the date early , just being pragmatic . While it may force the opposition to give more details on policy according to some posts whats to stop them doing nothing until close to the election ? Relying on the mainstream media looks like a false hope as the Ashby/libnat sham has shown . Focus on the pre trial PR and lose interest once the judge handed out his verdict . If Abetz can still sit on senate inquiries after the Greche fiasco don,t expect Brough , Pyne or Bishop to lose sleep over the Ashby case . Abbott is too busy doing stuff for Australia , important stuff you know .

  • 17
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s an interesting decision by the Gillard government. The major concern being the eight months of free advertising being given to the Liberal Party by News Corp. Perhaps if the PM had said the election will be held next month she would have gained a major hit on Tony Abbott.

  • 18
    Roberto Tedesco
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t checked but I’m sure the knuckle draggers at the usual suspects’ blogs will have wheeled out their “worst prime minister ever” and “266 days? Pah, we wanna election now!” howls. If they have to keep doing that for 8 months they may not make it to the polling booth come September

  • 19
    iggy648
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    And they’ll double the sky commentaries where they have an ex Liberal minister and an old white male JG hating ex Labor man for balance!

  • 20
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if this was McTernan’s idea?

    It will be a failure, people have 8 months to shine the baseball bats

  • 21
    tonyfunnywalker
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Abbott caught out. What he tried to contrive by foul means has now caught his and the Liberals unaware. He will need every second and I wonder of the trip to Sri Lanka will be postponed.

    Gillard is the master of surprise, she ” flies like a butterfly and stings like a bee. For a keen observer in these bloggs this was an obvious strategy and a less expensive one.

    Labor understands that decisions are a learning process - so rather than knee jerk and Hip pocket strategies the voter can understand the different policies and make their decisions accordingly.

    It is less dependent on advertising and the media which is expensive, boring and meaningless - people tune out.

    It is interesting what the Liberals will do - at the moment it is a campaign to ” love Abbott” he is not just an attack dog.

    The is will not be a campaign of populist slogans as the last one was and this one was shaping up to be all about the carbon tax.

    Abbott says it will be about trust - note Gillard’s new spectacles. Someone has been doing a lot of work on the psychology of trust in the labor campaign room.

  • 22
    geomac62
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    The gormless grin on Howards face as he toyed with journos asking for an election date used annoy me no end . I see no real advantage or disadvantage for the PM to set the date early , just being pragmatic . While it may force the opposition to give more details on policy according to some posts whats to stop them doing nothing until close to the election ? Rel ying on the mainstream media looks like a false hope as the Ashby/libnat sham has shown . Focus on the pre trial PR and lose interest once the judge handed out his verdict . If Abetz can still sit on senate inquiries after the Greche fiasco don,t expect Brough , Pyne or Bishop to lose sleep over the Ashby case . Abbott is too busy doing stuff for Australia , important stuff you know .

  • 23
    tonyfunnywalker
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I note the suggestion that choosing Yom Kuppir will upset the electorate with significant Jewish voters.

    It did not stop Israel going to war in 1972.

    ” The war began when the coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, which happened to occur that year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed ceasefire lines to enter the Israeli-held Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights respectively, which had been captured and occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. Both the United States and the Soviet Union initiated massive resupply efforts to their respective allies during the war, and this led to a near-confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers. ” Wikipedia.

    Again an example of poor research by News and other journalists.

  • 24
    El Nino
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m assuming the newly formed Parliamentary Budget Office will be costing any policies coming forward. A lot of work for those guys between now and the election.

  • 25
    Andybob
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    At last a wise political decision by Gillard. It takes the date speculation nonsense completely out of play and forces the focus on policy.

    Four year terms and a fixed date for elections would be even better but I understand why we can’t have nice things.

  • 26
    taylormade
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    El Nino “I’m assuming the newly formed Parliamentary Budget Office will be costing any policies coming forward. A lot of work for those guys between now and the election”

    Not sure about the now, I dont reckon Libs will release until August, and if Swan is anyway involved and he will be based on past experience, then i think the Libs will submit very little.

  • 27
    El Nino
    Posted Wednesday, 30 January 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    @ Taylormade it seems you are correct, read a little more about how the PBO is supposed to function - little hope that it will do much good. Shame.

  • 28
    John Drakes
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Oh no!
    8 months of campaign bombardment from both sides and then the inevitable outcome
    - Rambo becomes PM. I hope I’m wrong.

  • 29
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Throughout the recent American presidential election I often reflected that our forthcoming parliamentary elections would be a mirror image of the USA experience.
    Ms Gillard’s early calling of the election day is evidence of the Australian unique ability to think outside the box or square and so break this political umbilical cord that Murdoch wishes to strangle us with.
    She has now challenged the MSM in general and in particular the Murdoch rags to find the essence and substance of the alternative on offer and given them eight months to expose the inadequate leadership qualities that Mr Abbott possess to lead this country.
    I suspect that Prime Minister Gillard has written the first par of Tony Abbott’s political obituary, for under the glare of proper media and public scrutiny he and Hockey Stick Joe et al will fall far short of the nations ambitions, for themselves and their offspring.
    Ms Gillard has thrown down the gauntlet to the Mr Abbott and it will no longer suffice to be answered with one liners, platitudes, personal denigration, vitriol and PR cliches that the press have allowed him to indulge in over the past two years.
    And even, if purchance, she should fail I think wiser heads in the Liberal party will quickly bring his tenure to an abrupt halt by kicking the early sods into his political grave.
    Ms Gillard perhaps, even at the risks of political failure, will have done the nation a service in ridding our political landscape of this blot on our nation’s proud history.

  • 30
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    SB - “people have 8 months to shine the baseball bats” Considering you have had these “baseball bats” being “shined” for the entire time Gillard has been in office you had better watch out in case they have been worn so thin they snap on impact.

    I wonder could you provide 5 reasons to vote Abbott in, not vote Gillard out but 5 things that an Abbott govt will do that will be of benefit to the country.

  • 31
    Holden Back
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I wonder in which location these baseball bats are being polished. Somewhere the sun doesn’t shine?

    Or Mississippi?

  • 32
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Holden Back - Wouldn’t it be down at the RSL?

  • 33
    Holden Back
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Why do Australian conservatives consistently pinch tactics, and even phrases, from the American Republicans’ playbooks?

    Polish your cricket bat, surely, if you’re aiming for the local idiom.

  • 34
    Jimmy
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Holden - I think it would be oil your cricket bat, although that may have changed with these newer bats.

    As for the question - limited brain capacity springs to mind.

  • 35
    robinw
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting article from the US about Republican tactics and their latest failure with Obama winning. The similarities with our local Republican nutters, aka the Coalition, are striking. I can only hope the outcome is the same. http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/finally-swaggering-republicans-are-afraid

    For what it’s worth, I think that once again Gillard has thought outside the box, hence the squeals from the MSM commentariat and their bosses and I have a gut feeling that it just might work.

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