‘So when is the next election?’: Australian elections timetable as at January 2020

13 January 2020

PDF version [351KB]

Rob Lundie, updated by Laura Schatz and Damon Muller
Politics and Public Administration Section

Contents

Introduction
The Commonwealth

The rules
House of Representatives election
Half-Senate election
Simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representatives election
Double dissolution election
Next Commonwealth election
Table 1: Commonwealth elections—Next election dates
Table 2: Commonwealth elections—Simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representatives election possible timetables
Table 3: Commonwealth Parliament—Double dissolution election possible timetables

States and territories

Table 4: States and territories—Next election dates
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory
Queensland
Western Australia
Tasmania
South Australia
Victoria
New South Wales

Local government

Table 5: Local councils—Next election dates
Western Australia
Queensland
New South Wales
Victoria
Northern Territory
Tasmania
South Australia

All elections

Table 6: Timeline of election dates 2019–2023

Appendix A: The election timetable. 15

Introduction

This Research Paper provides a brief overview of the rules for determining the next Commonwealth, state, territory and local government elections. The paper lists the date of the next election where this is fixed, or, where applicable, the earliest and latest possible dates on which it may occur. For an explanation of the electoral systems for federal, state and territory jurisdictions see the Research Paper by Scott Bennett and Rob Lundie entitled, Australian Electoral Systems,[1] and the Research Paper by Damon Muller entitled The New Senate Voting System and the 2016 Election, which describes reforms to the Senate voting system—the largest reform to Australia’s federal voting system in over 30 years—introduced in 2016.[2]

The Commonwealth

The rules

While the calling of a Commonwealth election is partly a matter of political judgement and timing, a constitutional and legislative framework governs the electoral timetable and process. The Australian Constitution requires periodic elections for both Houses of Parliament, with separate provisions reflecting the different constitutional role of each House. The maximum term of the House of Representatives is set by section 28 of the Constitution, which states:

Every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first meeting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the Governor-General.[3]

The Constitution[4] and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918[5] (CEA) provide the following timetabling provisions for elections (note that the specific dates for the relevant election are set out in the writ):[6]

  • writs are to be issued for the election of Members of the House of Representatives and Senators for the Territories by the Governor-General within 10 days following the expiry of the House, or proclamation of its dissolution (Constitution, section 32; CEA, section 151)
  • writs are to be issued for the election of Senators for the states by the state Governors within 10 days following the expiry of the Senate, or proclamation of its dissolution (Constitution, section 12)
  • the rolls close at 8pm[7] on the seventh day after the date of the writ (CEA, section 155)
  • nominations of candidates close at 12 pm not less than 10 days nor more than 27 days after the date of the writs (CEA, section 156; section 175). A request that candidates be grouped together in one column on the Senate ballot paper under CEA, section 168 must be submitted together with the nomination itself. A request that the party name appear adjacent to the name of the candidate under CEA, section 169 can be made at any time before the close of nominations
  • the declaration of candidates occurs at 12 pm on the day after nominations close (CEA, section 175)
  • pre-poll voting cannot begin earlier than the fifth day after the declaration of nominations (CEA, section 200D(4))[8]
  • the polling day shall not be less than 23 days nor more than 31 days after the date of nomination (CEA section 157)
  • the election must be held on a Saturday (CEA, section 158)
  • the writ must be returned no more than 100 days after the issue of the writ (CEA, section 159)[9]
  • following the return of the writ, there is a period of 40 days during which the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), a candidate at the election in dispute, or any person who was qualified to vote at that election, may lodge a petition with the High Court acting as the Court of Disputed Returns challenging the result of the election (CEA, section 355; section 357) and[10]
  • Parliament must meet not later than 30 days after the date appointed for the return of the writs (Constitution, section 5). Parliament may meet before the appointed date for the return of the writs if the writs have been returned[11]
  • The time allowed from the expiry or dissolution of the House to polling day is therefore not less than 33 days and not more than 68 days. These timings are summarised in Appendix A
  • The Government, in its advice to the Governor-General, may use this flexibility around timings in order to ensure that the key election events do not land on inconvenient days. For example, the writ for the 2019 federal election was timed so that milestones such as the close of rolls or the start of early voting did not occur on public holidays (such as Anzac Day) or over the Easter long weekend.[12]

House of Representatives election

A House of Representatives election can be requested at any time but, if the Government has control of the House and is able to proceed with its legislative program, the Governor-General is highly unlikely to agree to such a request within the first year of a new parliament.[13]

The latest possible date of the next election is within 68 days from the expiry of the House. As the 46th Parliament first met on Tuesday 2 July 2019, it is therefore due to expire on Friday 1 July 2022.[14] The election for the House of Representatives must therefore be held by 3 September 2022, the last Saturday within this 68 day period. However, an election may be held at any time before that date. Generally, elections are called well before there is a constitutional or legal necessity.

There has been only one instance of an election being held after a parliament expired through effluxion of time. This occurred in 1910. In more recent times, Prime Minister William McMahon has gone closest to a full-term parliament, dissolving the House in 1972 after two years, 11 months and eight days. The 41st Parliament under Prime Minister John Howard also went close, with a term from 16 November 2004 to 17 October 2007, of two years, 11 months and one day. The length of the 45th Parliament was determined largely by the requirement to hold a half-Senate election, as discussed in the next section.

Half-Senate election

Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate is a continuing body. Half the state senators’ terms expire on 30 June every three years, except in the case of a simultaneous dissolution of both Houses as occurred for the election on 2 July 2016. Section 13 of the Constitution requires that an election be held within one year before the places of retiring senators become vacant. The terms of senators for the territories coincide with those of the House of Representatives.

There is no constitutional requirement that elections for the House of Representatives and state senators be held simultaneously. They are generally held together, primarily to avoid the duplication of costs in holding separate elections and because it is felt that voters would not look kindly upon a government that called separate elections. The last time a half-Senate only election was held was in 1970.[15]

If the elections for the House of Representatives and half the Senate are to be held simultaneously, the date must conform with the constitutional provisions relating to the terms of Senators and the period during which the Senate election must be held.

The terms of senators elected in 2016 for six year terms will expire on 30 June 2022.[16] Territory Senators serve three years but their terms are tied to the House of Representatives and consequently the timing of House/General elections (CEA, section 151). Therefore, in theory, the next half-Senate election must be held between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022. However, it is generally considered that the election is a period that begins with the issue of the writ and, as such, a half-Senate election effectively cannot be held in July 2021 given the minimum 33 days from expiry/dissolution to polling day. So the earliest possible date for such an election is Saturday 7 August 2021.[17]

Similarly, practicalities of timings between polling day and the swearing in of new Senators has traditionally precluded June from being available for half-Senate elections. Allowing for a maximum election period, the latest date for the next half-Senate election would be Saturday 21 May 2022. This date allows for the maximum 100 day period after the issue of the writs, which would happen on Tuesday 22 March, to their return by 30 June 2022 so that the elected Senators could take their seats on 1 July 2022.

Note, however, that the latest date is not nearly as fixed as the earliest. Section 159 of the CEA requires a maximum of 100 days for return of the writs; in practice, the Governor-General, on advice from the Prime Minister, could specify less time.[18]

Simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representatives election

As House of Representatives and half-Senate elections are usually held together, the earliest date for a simultaneous election would be Saturday, 7 August 2021.

The latest possible date for a half-Senate election is Saturday 21 May 2022, so the latest possible date for a simultaneous (half-Senate and House of Representatives) election is the same date. 

Double dissolution election

Section 57 of the Constitution provides that both houses may be simultaneously dissolved should there be a legislative deadlock between them. A deadlock occurs only when a three-month period has elapsed between the Senate rejecting a Bill and the House passing it a second time only for it to be rejected again.[19] Once these conditions have been met, a double dissolution election can be called, though not within six months of the expiry date (currently Friday 1 July 2022) for the House of Representatives. This means that the last possible date for the dissolution of both houses of the current parliament is Friday 31 December 2021.

If there is a double dissolution of the Parliament on Friday 31 December 2021, the usual timetabling requirements apply. The writs must be issued within ten days of the dissolution, that is, by 10 January 2022. The writs may be issued on the same day as the dissolution occurs, but as section 12 of the Constitution requires the writs for Senate elections to be issued by the State Governors, these writs may not necessarily be issued on the same day as the dissolution. Should the writs be issued on the same day (31 December), and the shortest times apply, nominations would close on 10 January, and polling would be on Saturday 5 February 2022.

Should the maximum times apply, the writs would have to be issued by 10 January 2022 and nominations would have to close by 6 February 2022. The latest possible polling date for a double dissolution election is Saturday 5 March 2022.

Next Commonwealth election

The most common types of election have been either a simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representatives election, or a double dissolution election. For either type of election, the Government has usually opted for a short campaign period,[20] notwithstanding the 2016 double dissolution campaign which went for 54 days. The Government also usually tries to avoid having an election campaign over the Easter period, although the 2019 election was held over the Easter period. As Easter Sunday is on 17 April in 2022, this may be a factor if an election is considered in that year.

Tables 1-3 below set out the earliest and latest election dates, and possible election timetables, for these two types of elections. Because there are limits as to when either type of election can be called, to establish the latest polling date the maximum timetable period must be used. It should be noted that in Table 2 and Table 3 these are theoretical limits. For practical, political and financial reasons, a government is unlikely to have a maximum campaign period of 68 days or a pre-poll period of 28 days.

Table 1: Commonwealth elections—Next election dates

 

Last election

Earliest date

Latest date

Simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representatives

18 May 2019

7 August 2021

21 May 2022

House of Representatives

 

 

3 September 2022

Half-Senate

 

7 August 2021

21 May 2022

Double dissolution

2 July 2016

 

5 March 2022

Source: Parliamentary Library.

Table 2: Commonwealth elections—Simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representatives election possible timetables

 

Dates for earliest possible election, with a minimum election period

Dates for latest possible election, with a maximum election period

Expiry/dissolution of Parliament

1 July 2021

12 March 2022

Issue of Writs (within 10 days from expiry/ dissolution of Parliament)

1 July 2021

22 March 2022

Close of Rolls (seven days after issue of writs)

8 July 2021

29 March 2022

Close of Nominations (at 12 pm not less than 10 days nor more than 27 days after the issue of writs)

11 July 2021

18 April 2022

Declaration of Nominations (at 12 pm one day after close of nominations)

12 July 2021

19 April 2022

Pre-poll voting can begin (not less than the fifth day after the declaration of nominations)

17 July 2021

24 April 2022

Polling Day (on a Saturday not less than 23 days or more than 31 days after the close of nominations)

7 August 2021

21 May 2022

Return of Writs (no more than 100 days after the issue of the writs)

9 October 2021

30 June 2022

Meeting of Parliament (not later than 30 days after the date appointed for the return of the writs but may meet before that date if the writs have been returned)[21]

11 October 2021[22]

 2 August 2022[23]

Source: Parliamentary Library.

Table 3: Commonwealth Parliament—Double dissolution election possible timetables

 

Dates for earliest possible election, with a minimum election period

Dates for latest possible election, with a maximum election period

Expiry/dissolution of Parliament

31 December 2021

31 December 2021

Issue of Writs (within 10 days from expiry/dissolution of Parliament)

31 December 2021

10 January 2022

Close of Rolls (seven days after issue of writs)

7 January 2022

17 January 2022

Close of Nominations (at 12 pm not less than 10 days or more than 27 days after the issue of writs)

 10 January 2022

6 February 2022

Declaration of Nominations (at 12 pm one day after close of nominations)

11 January 2022

7 February 2022

Pre-poll voting can begin (not less than the fifth day after the declaration of nominations)

16 January 2022

12 February 2022

Polling Day (not less than 23 days nor more than 31 days after the close of nominations)

5 February 2022

5 March 2022

Return of Writs (no more than 100 days after the issue of the writs)

10 April 2022

20 April 2022

Meeting of Parliament (not later than 30 days after the date appointed for the return of the writs but may meet before that date if the writs have been returned)

11 April 2022

24 May 2022[24]

Source: Parliamentary Library.

States and territories

Each state and territory has its own provisions as to when elections are held. Table 4 below sets out when the next elections will be held for the lower house of each state and territory (with the exception of Tasmania, for which only an estimate can be offered). All states, except Queensland, have bicameral parliaments. Queensland and the territories are unicameral.

There are usually exceptional circumstances in which early elections can be called and they vary slightly from parliament to parliament. They include such things as the government losing the confidence of parliament, parliament failing to pass a money Bill for the ordinary services of government, parliament failing to pass a ‘Bill of special importance’ on two occasions, the date of the election clashing with the date for the Commonwealth election (CEA, section 394), or if there is a natural disaster.

Table 4: States and territories—Next election dates

 

Most recent

Next election date

NT

27 August 2016

22 August 2020 (fixed)

ACT

15 October 2016

17 October 2020[25] (fixed)

Qld

25 November 2017

31 October 2020 (fixed thereafter)[26]

WA

11 March 2017

13 March 2021 (fixed)

Tas.

3 March 2018

Around mid-2022 (not fixed)[27]

SA

17 March 2018

19 March 2022 (fixed)

Vic.

24 November 2018

26 November 2022 (fixed)

NSW

23 March 2019

25 March 2023 (fixed)

Source: State and territory electoral commissions; Parliamentary Library.

Northern Territory

Section 17 of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978[28] (Cth) determines that the Legislative Assembly has a maximum four-year, fixed term. Section 23(1) of the Electoral Act 2004[29] states:

For determining the date for a general election if the previous general election was not an extraordinary general election, the general election is to be held on the 4th Saturday in August in the 4th year after the year in which the previous general election was held.

However, if an extraordinary general election has been held because the Government either lost the confidence of the Assembly or an appropriation Bill was rejected by, or failed to pass, the Assembly,[30] section 23(2) dictates that ‘the general election is to be held on the 4th Saturday in August in the 3rd year after the year in which that extraordinary general election was held’.

Australian Capital Territory

The Legislative Assembly has a fixed term. Section 100 of the Electoral Act 1992[31] prescribes that elections are to be held on the third Saturday in October every four years. If the date clashes with a Commonwealth election, then it must be deferred until the first Saturday in December. Furthermore, the election would also not occur if there has been an extraordinary election held within six months before the October date. An extraordinary election[32] may be held for example, because the Governor-General has dissolved the Assembly,[33] or because the Chief Minister has lost the confidence of the Assembly.[34]

Queensland

At a referendum on 19 March 2016, Queenslanders voted to approve a Bill to move from a maximum three-year term to a fixed four-year parliamentary term from the date appointed for the return of the writs. The Constitution (Fixed Term Parliament) Amendment Act 2015[35] provides for an election to be held on the fourth Saturday in October every four years. However, this provision will not come into effect until after the 2020 election.

Western Australia

On 11 November 2011, the Western Australian Parliament passed the Electoral and Constitution Amendment Act 2011[36] which established a fixed election date. Elections are held on the second Saturday in March, every four years.[37]

Tasmania

Section 23 of the Constitution Act 1934[38] stipulates that the Tasmanian House of Assembly (the lower house) has a maximum four-year term from the day of the return of the writs. The election date is not fixed and can be called at any time with the Governor’s agreement. The Electoral Act 2004[39] governs the process of elections.

Section 19 of the Constitution Act states that elections for the Legislative Council (the upper house) are to be held on the first Saturday in May every year. Elections are on a six-year periodic cycle with elections for three members being held in one year, for two members the next year and so on.[40]

South Australia

The South Australian House of Assembly (lower house) has a fixed, four-year term. According to section 28 of the Constitution Act 1934[41] (SA) a general election of members of the House of Assembly must be held on the third Saturday in March every four years unless this date falls on the day after Good Friday, occurs within the same month as a general election of members of the Commonwealth House of Representatives or the conduct of the election could be adversely affected by a state disaster. In conjunction with the Assembly election, an election is also held for 11 members of the Legislative Council (upper house).[42]

The Governor may also dissolve the Assembly and call a general election for an earlier date if the Government has lost the confidence of the Assembly or a Bill of special importance has been rejected by the Legislative Council.[43] Both the Council and the Assembly may also be dissolved simultaneously if a deadlock occurs between them as outlined in section 41 of the Act.

Victoria

The Legislative Assembly (the lower house) has a fixed, four-year term. Section 38 of Victoria’s Constitution Act 1975[44] stipulates that, barring exceptional circumstances (for example, the date clashes with a Commonwealth election), elections are held on the last Saturday in November every four years.[45]

According to section 38A of the Constitution Act 1975, elections for Legislative Council (upper house) members are held on the same day as those for the Legislative Assembly. The election process is governed by the Electoral Act 2002.[46]

New South Wales

The Legislative Assembly (lower house) has a fixed term unless, subject to section 24B of the Constitution Act 1902,[47] the Government has lost the confidence of the Assembly or an appropriation Bill has been rejected or failed to have been passed by the Assembly. According to sections 24A and 24B of the Act, for fixed term elections, the elections are to be held on the fourth Saturday in March every four years, unless this would mean they would be held during the same period as a Commonwealth election, during a holiday period or at any other inconvenient time.[48]

According to the Sixth Schedule and section 22A(3) of the Constitution Act 1902, elections for half of the Legislative Council (upper house) are held simultaneously with each Legislative Assembly general election. The election process is governed by both the Electoral Act 2017[49] and the Constitution Act 1902.

Local government

There are local councils in every state and territory except the ACT. Each state and territory has its own provisions as to when elections are held. The following table sets out the most recent council elections and when the next council elections are due.

Table 5: Local councils—Next election dates

State/Territory

Most recent

Next election

Comments

Western Australia

21 October 2017

19 October 2019

Councillors are elected for 4 years in WA. Elections are held every 2 years for half the council[50]

Queensland

19 March 2016

28 March 2020

 

 

New South Wales

9 September 2016

13 September 2020

 

 

9 September 2017

13 September 2020

Some NSW councils had their elections deferred due to the formation of new councils and were unable to participate in the 2016 NSW local government elections[51]

Victoria

4–21 October 2016

5–23 October 2020[52]

Councils conducting postal vote elections

 

22 October 2016

24 October 2020

Councils where voters must attend a voting centre

Northern Territory

26 August 2017

28 August 2021

 

Tasmania

8–30 October 2018

 

11–25 October 2022

Postal voting only

South Australia

9 November 2018

11 November 2022[53]

 

Source: State and territory electoral commissions; Parliamentary Library.

Western Australia

Section 4.7 of the Local Government Act 1995[54] stipulates that elections for local councils are held every two years on the third Saturday in October. The process for conducting local council elections in WA is determined according to a process outlined in Part 4 of the Local Government Act 1995.

Queensland

Section 23 of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011[55] stipulates that local council elections are to be held every four years on the last Saturday in March. The processes for holding local council elections are outlined in the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

New South Wales

Elections for local councils are held every four years on the second Saturday in September. This is determined according to a process outlined in Chapter 10 of the Local Government Act 1993.[56]

Victoria

According to Section 31 of the Local Government Act 1989[57] elections for local councils are held every four years on the fourth Saturday in October. The process for holding local council elections is set out in Part 3 of the Local Government Act 1989.

Northern Territory

Section 85 of the Local Government Act 2008[58] states that elections for local councils must be held every four years, on the fourth Saturday in August. The conduct of local elections in the NT is determined by a process outlined in Chapter 8 of the Local Government Act 2008.

Tasmania

All aldermen, councillors, mayors and deputy mayors are elected by full postal voting for four-year terms during a two-week period ending on the last Tuesday in October every four years. The period is determined according to a process outlined Part 15 of the Local Government Act 1993.[59]

South Australia

According to Section 5 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999,[60] elections for local councils must be held every four years on the last business day before the second Saturday in November. Local election processes are outlined in Parts 2–10 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999.

All elections

Table 6 below sets out the elections which are due across all jurisdictions for the next few years. It does not include supplementary elections, by-elections or separate legislative council elections.

Table 6: Timeline of election dates 2019–2023

Election Date (actual or due)

Jurisdiction and Type of Election

2019

19 October

Western Australia (local)

2020

28 March

Queensland (local)

22 August

Northern Territory (territory)

13 September

New South Wales (local)

17 October

Australian Capital Territory (territory)

Between 5 and 23 October

Victoria (local—for councils conducting a postal vote election)

24 October

Victoria (local—for councils where voters must attend a voting centre)

31 October

Queensland (state)

2021

13 March

Western Australia (state)

Between 7 August 2021 and 21 May 2022

Federal (simultaneous House of Representatives and half-Senate or half-Senate only)

28 August

Northern Territory (local)

2022

By 5 March at the latest

Federal (double dissolution)

19 March

South Australia (state)

By 21 May

Federal (simultaneous House of Representative and half-Senate or half-Senate only)

Mid-2022

Tasmania (state)

By 2 September

Federal (House of Representatives only)

Between 11 and 25 October

Tasmania (local)

11 November

South Australia (local)

26 November

Victoria (state)

2023

25 March

New South Wales (state)

Source: State and territory electoral commissions; Parliamentary Library.

Appendix A: The election timetable

 

Minimum
# of days

Maximum
# of days

Expiry or dissolution of Parliament

The House of Representatives expires three years after its first meeting but can be dissolved earlier (section 28, Constitution).

 

 

Election announcement

No fixed time.

 

 

Issue of writs

Writs are issued within 10 days of the expiry of the House of Representatives or within 10 days of the proclamation of a dissolution of the House of Representatives or the Senate (sections 12 and 32 of the Constitution, section 151 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

0

10

Close of rolls

Rolls close at 8pm, seven days after the issue of writs (section 155 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

7

17

Close of nominations

Nominations close at noon, between 10 and 27 days after the issue of writs (section 156 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

10

37

Declaration of nominations

Nominations are publicly declared 24 hours after nominations close (section 176 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

11

38

Early voting

Early voting commences five days after the declaration of nominations (section 200D(4) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

16

43

Polling Day

Polling day is fixed between 23 and 31 days after the date of nominations (section 157 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

33

68

Return of writs

The maximum time for the return of writs is no more than 100 days after the issue of writs (section 159 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

100

110

Meeting of Parliament

The new Parliament meets within 30 days of the day appointed for the return of the writs (section 5 of the Constitution).

130

140

Source: Adapted from the 2017 Australian Electoral Commission Electoral Pocketbook publication, with added updates to reflect recent legislative changes.

Note: Hyperlinks for legislation in this Research paper are generally directed to the AustLII website for ease of use. They are not links to the official copies of the legislation. Please exercise caution when using these links.  


[1].      S Bennett and R Lundie, Australian electoral systems, Research paper, 5, 2007–08, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 21 August 2007.

[2]       D Muller, The new Senate voting system and the 2016 election, Research paper series, 2017–18, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2018.

[3].      Constitution, section 28.

[4].      Constitution.

[5].      Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth).

[6].      The writ is an instruction to the Electoral Commissioner to hold an election and is issued by the Governor-General for an election of all of the seats in the House of Representatives and the senators for the two territories, by the governor of each state for Senate elections for a state, or by the Speaker of the House of Representatives for a by-election.

[7].      The 8 pm deadline for close of rolls is established in the requirements for lodging claims for enrolment under the following provisions: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, sections 94A(4)(a), 95(4)(a), 96(4)(a), 99B(2)(c)(ii), 102(4)(a)(i), 103A(5)(a), 103B(5)(a)and 118(5)(a).

[8].      The commencement of pre-poll voting was changed from the fourth day after the date of nominations to the fifth day by the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Act 2019, which came into effect on 8 March 2019.

[9].      Section 286 of the CEA allows the Governor-General or respective state governor to extend the time for holding the election or for returning the writ.

[10].    The decision by the High Court of Australia in Alley v Gillespie (2018) 353 ALR 1, [2018] HCA 11 made it clear that the qualification of a member to sit in parliament could only be challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns either by a referral by the respective Chamber or by a petition under sections 355 or 357 of the CEA.

[11].    D Elder and PE Fowler, House of Representatives practice, 7th edn, Department of the House of Representatives, Canberra, 2018, p. 103.

[12].    D Muller, ‘The 2019 federal election: key dates’, FlagPost, Parliamentary Library blog, 11 April 2019.

[13].    House of Representatives practice notes that ‘While the decision to dissolve the House may be made by the Governor-General, the decision to call a general election may only be made on and with the advice of the Executive Council, that is, the Government’, op cit., p. 94. 

[14].    This date has been calculated based on the three year period in section 28 of the Constitution including the first day on which the House sat on 2 July 2019.

[15].    With the exception of the stand-alone 2014 Western Australian Senate election, required due to the voiding of the 2013 Senate election in the state by the Court of Disputed Returns following the loss of ballot papers.

[16].    Constitution section 13.

[17].    S Bennett, Restrictions on the timing of half-Senate elections, Research note, 38, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2002.

[18].    In 2019, there was some debate as to how late the election could be held before the new Senators took their place.

[19].    A critical consideration affecting the timing of any double dissolution is the date from which the three-month interval is calculated. Although some aspects of section 57 remain unclear, a majority of the High Court held in Victoria v Commonwealth and Connor (1975) 134 CLR 81, [1975] HCA 39 that the three-month interval commences on the date on which the Senate rejects or fails to pass the Bill. The High Court has not expressed a definitive view as to the commencement of the three-month period in which the Senate passes a Bill with amendments ‘to which the House will not agree’.

[20].    There is no specific definition of ‘campaign period’ but in this paper it refers to the period from the date Parliament is dissolved to polling day.

[21].    House of Representatives practice notes that the day fixed for the first meeting of Parliament following an election is usually a Tuesday.

[22].    Parliament is able to meet as soon as the writs have been returned.

[23].    Although technically Saturday 30 July 2022, it would more likely be on Tuesday 2 August 2022; see footnote 16 above.

[24].    Although technically Friday 20 May 2022, it would more likely be on Tuesday 24 May 2022; see footnote 16 above.

[25].    Note that postal votes can be received in the ACT until 23 October 2020. See: Elections ACT, ‘2020 Legislative Assembly election’, ACT Electoral Commission website, updated 14 December 2016.    

[26].    Queensland is in a state of transitioning to four-year fixed terms. According to the Electoral Commission of Queensland, the next state election is due to be held on 31 October 2020; after that, the Constitution (Fixed Term Parliament) Amendment Act 2015 prescribes fixed, four year terms.

[27].    The Tasmania’s House of Assembly expires four years after the return of the writ for the last election, which was held on 3 March 2018; however it is not clear when the writs were returned.

[28].    Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 (Cth).

[29].    Electoral Act 2004 (NT).

[30].    Ibid., sections 24, 25.

[31].    Electoral Act 1992 (ACT).

[32].    Ibid., section 101.

[33].    Under section 16 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (ACT), the Governor General has power to dissolve the assembly if he or she is of the opinion it is incapable of effectively performing its functions or it is conducting its affairs in a grossly improper manner. The section sets out the processes for holding a general election after such as dissolution.

[34].    Section 48 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (ACT) outlines the timeframes for holding a general election after a resolution of no-confidence in a Chief Minister.

[35].    Constitution (Fixed Term Parliament) Amendment Act 2015 (Qld).

[36].    Electoral and Constitution Amendment Act 2011 (WA).

[37].    Western Australia Electoral Commission (WAEC), ‘State elections’, WAEC website, accessed 12 December 2019.

[38].    Constitution Act 1934 (Tas.).

[39].    Electoral Act 2004 (Tas.).

[40].    Constitution Act 1934 (Tas.).

[41].    Constitution Act 1934 (SA).

[42].    Ibid.

[43].    Ibid., section 28A.

[44].    Constitution Act 1975 (Vic.).

[45].    Ibid.

[46].    Electoral Act 2002 (Vic.).

[47].    Constitution Act 1902 (NSW).

[48].    Ibid.

[49].    Electoral Act 2017 (NSW).

[50].    For further details see: WAEC, ‘Local government elections’, WAEC website, accessed 12 December 2019.

[51].    For a list of councils which had elections in 2016 and 2017, see: New South Wales Electoral Commission (NSWEC), ‘Local government election results’, NSWEC website, last updated 18 October 2019.

[52].    For postal elections, ballot packs are distributed via post 17–19 days before election day. See: Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), ‘How to vote: local council elections’, VEC website, page last updated 27 September 2017.

[53].    In South Australia council elections are held every 4 years in all 68 councils, with the exception of Roxby Downs, which operates under its own administration. See: Electoral Commission SA (ECSA), ‘Council elections’, ECSA website, n.d.

[54].    Local Government Act 1995 (WA).

[55].    Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (Qld).

[56].    Local Government Act 1993 (NSW).

[57].    Local Government Act 1989 (Vic.).

[58].    Local Government Act 2008 (NT).

[59].    Local Government Act 1993 (Tas.).

[60].    Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 (SA).

 

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