Early election

Parliament house flag post

Early election

Posted 26/08/2010 by Nicholas Horne

The House of Representatives that is emerging from the 2010 election, and the fact that the next government will be a minority government, raises the spectre of the electorate going to the polls well before the next federal election would otherwise be expected. If an election takes place prior to mid-2013 it will only be for the House of Representatives and the territory senators; the rest of the Senate will not be in play unless there is a double dissolution.


It has been reported that both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have committed to not having an election before August 2013. The fact remains, however, that a Prime Minister can request an election at any time (elections are almost always called before the maximum term of the House of Representatives expires). Where a government has a majority in the House and so can advance its legislation, it is unlikely that a Governor-General will agree to a request for an election early in a new parliament. For the next government in the next parliament, however, majority support may well be fragile, and if it is lost an early election could well be called. Another possibility in the event of the government losing majority support would be for the Governor-General to commission the Leader of the Opposition to form a new government.


Under the Australian Constitution the maximum term of the House of Representatives is three years from the date of its first meeting following an election. As the new House of Representatives has not yet met (and indeed is still being elected), its maximum term cannot be precisely determined at this stage. However, under the constitutional provisions relating to the summoning of parliament the new parliament must meet by late November 2010, so the term of the new House of Representatives will expire at an equivalent point in 2013. The Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 determine the formal timetable for elections after the House of Representatives is dissolved.

Electoral timing is also affected by the Senate. Under the Constitution state senators are elected for six-year terms (the terms of senators for the ACT and the Northern Territory are shorter, being concurrent with the term of the House of Representatives under the Commonwealth Electoral Act). The Senate, unlike the House of Representatives, is a continuing body, and elections for the Senate are staggered. Excepting double dissolutions, half of the state senators retire on 30 June every three years and face election. Importantly, under the Constitution elections for retiring senators cannot be held earlier than one year prior to their places becoming vacant.

Half of the current Senate commenced on 1 July 2008 following the 2007 election; their terms are due to expire on 30 June 2014. The other half of the Senate was elected in 2004; their terms commenced on 1 July 2005 and are due to expire on 30 June 2011. This latter group of senators have just faced election, and the terms of the senators elected in 2010 will commence on 1 July 2011 and will be due to expire on 30 June 2017.

In the normal run of things the next federal election would be for the House of Representatives, the territory senators, and those state senators due to retire in June 2014. If the next election takes place early, however (for example at any point in 2011 or 2012), and is not a double dissolution election, it will only be for the House of Representatives and the territory senators, as an election for those state senators retiring in June 2014 will not be possible before mid-2013.
(Image sourced from: http://www.commons.wikimedia.org/ )


Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.

Add your comment

[Click to expand]




Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print

FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament


Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice

Archive

Syndication

Tagcloud

asylum refugees immigration climate change Parliament elections Australian foreign policy social security health financing women Australian Defence Force taxation welfare policy welfare reform sport Medicare employment illicit drugs gambling Australian Bureau of Statistics higher education disability statistics private health insurance Middle East Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency health reform emissions trading industrial relations united states Carbon Pricing Mechanism United Nations school education steroids WADA federal budget 43rd Parliament politics labour force Australian Federal Police transport indigenous Australians aid detention criminal law child protection ASADA Afghanistan governance international relations poker machines law enforcement people trafficking Fair Work Act Australian Public Service pharmaceutical benefits scheme International Women's Day Australian Crime Commission parliamentary procedure National Disability Insurance Scheme children's health food OECD debt defence capability federal election 2013 Australian Electoral Commission aged care Asia Australia in the Asian Century environment Senate income management pensions planning skilled migration Papua New Guinea multiculturalism people smuggling social media doping HECS Higher Education Loan Program paid parental leave health High Court corruption federal state relations dental health New Zealand terrorist groups ALP election results constitution UK Parliament public service reform forced labour aviation coal seam gas crime customs ADRV Census Newstart Parenting Payment employee employer Federal Court foreign debt gross debt net debt European Union domestic violence firearms Constitutional reform food labelling Australian economy carbon tax banking political parties public policy terrorism welfare Australian Security Intelligence Organisation intelligence community Drugs research and development voting mental health health system human rights Northern Territory Emergency Response science Electoral reform regional unemployment violence against women accountability China military history Indigenous Indonesia Pacific Islands speaker health risks superannuation middle class welfare welfare systems question time animal health Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry trade unions integrity same sex relationships foreign bribery Australian Secret Intelligence Service export liquefied natural gas local government referendum children mining forestry Tasmania financial sector Canada United Nations Security Council climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leadership expertise Senators and Members family assistance by-election US economy housing affordability ASIO carbon markets new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC reserved seats regulation Parliamentary remuneration Population Hung Parliament federal budget 2011-12 paternalism public health slavery Trafficking in Persons Report homelessness school chaplains ministries water federal election 2010 Medicare Locals primary care regional students Youth Allowance entitlements salary sea farers productivity Special Rapporteur transparency money laundering early childhood education national security sexual abuse bulk billing disability employment World Trade Organization Australia renewable energy US politics terrorist financing language education royal commission Italy roads international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies standard of proof arts World Health Organisation disciplinary tribunals railways infant mortality honorary citizen suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports contracts workplace policies peace keeping disorderly conduct same-sex marriage Parliament House retirement Rent Assistance constitutional recognition of local government anti-dumping national heritage NHMRC nutrition GDP world heritage submarines Somalia United Kingdom defence budget First speech election timetable sitting days prime ministers standing orders public housing cancer gene patents genetic testing universities Ireland public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission vocational education and training limitation period Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping leave loading political engagement Korean peninsula counselling pests suicide social policy alcohol computer games plebiscites therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration federalism federation preselection Iran sanctions baby bonus early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin citizen engagement policymaking biosecurity hendra environmental law COAG Ministerial Councils nuclear Work Choices republic hospitals qantas ANZUS Norway President Barack Obama Presidential visits advertising electricity energy maritime floods ADHD stimulant medication ABS Trade Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings 44th Parliament 2015 e-voting internet voting nsw state elections Indigenous health procurement child care funding refugees immigration asylum ACT Assembly Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors social services EU fishing asylum refugees immigration political finance donations Antarctica Diplomacy Disability Support Pension by-elections state and territories China soft power education Fiji India fuel Scottish referendum Members of Parliament Middle East; national security; terrorism Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy innovation Bills NATO workers anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform standards copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry Governor-General Animal law; food health policy employment law bullying asylum seekers Economics efficiency foreign aid human rights; Racial Discrimination Act smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Work Health and Safety Asia; Japan; international relations youth Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine political financing Australia Greens Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling Stronger futures rural and regional political parties preselection presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act Australian Greens obesity competition policy US presidential election evidence law sacrament of confession international days codes of conduct consumer laws

Show all
Show less
Back to top