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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.

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

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35 comments

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

  1. Jimmy

    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

    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

    Exacerbating Abbott’s pre(mature) election problems.

  4. MJPC

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

  5. Katie Lee

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

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