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Jan 30, 2013

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.

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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

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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35 thoughts on “Gillard’s D-Day: PM calls election for Sep 14

  1. Mike Flanagan

    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.

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