Electoral administration in Australia is usually spared the partisan rancour that blights its every aspect in the United States, but Labor was happy to make an exception yesterday after being presented with a nine-week campaign for the “Super Saturday” byelections in Braddon, Longman, Perth, Fremantle and Mayo.

Down four votes on the floor of the House of Representatives, Labor had already been kicking up a fuss over the government's reluctance to have the whole thing wrapped up by mid-June -- a little audaciously, given the circumstances that have brought the byelections about.