$4m reason we’re waiting for election
AUSTRALIANS won't be learning the date of the next federal election today, as the Morrison government buys itself more time to sell its budget.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly decided against visiting Government House today, with the election date now more likely to be May 18.
A delayed election announcement would advantage the government by stretching out their access to taxpayer funds for advertising policies and programs. Since January, an independent committee has approved 15 major government advertising campaigns covering energy, health, roads and schools.
It would also allow MPs, who have already left Canberra, to spend more time spruiking last Tuesday's budget in their electorates.
On the downside, the Senate is scheduled to continue with budget estimates this week, hearings that could potentially be damaging for the government. As well, Nationals members are hoping for a conclusion to the environmental assessment on the proposed Adani Carmichael mine in Queensland, which they can take to the election as a win for jobs and the economy.
Despite the delay, Liberal strategists and staff have begun arriving at their campaign headquarters in Brisbane while Labor staffers are setting up their base in Parramatta in western Sydney.
Bill Shorten says Labor is ready for whenever Mr Morrison calls the election. The Labor leader told reporters in Launceston the government had given up governing.
"If the prime minister wants to play games about when he calls the election, I'm just not interested," the opposition leader said.
Shadow Labor Treasurer Chris Bowen accused the government of delaying the election to spend an extra $4 million on political ads.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the election timing was up to the prime minister. "It will be made in due course. An election will soon be upon us, but the contest will be very clear," he said.
Mr Morrison attended an NRL match on Saturday night between the Cronulla Sharks and the Parramatta Eels and was expected to attend church this morning.
WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO CALL AN ELECTION?
The Prime Minister must visit the Governor-General's residence to inform Mr Cosgrove of the date for an election of the House of Representatives and half the Senate.
This is the formal procedure that results in a proclamation to dissolve the House declaring all seats vacant for election.
The Governor-General with advice from the Executive Council will then issue writs for the House and for the election of Territory senators, after which state governors will issue writs for the election of state senators.
Thereafter, the minimum campaign period from the issue of writs to polling day is 33 days, the maximum 58 days.
Forgoing an announcement today, the prime minister's most likely option is now May 18, but May 25 and June 1 are also possibilities if the Australian Electoral Commission is granted extra funding to expedite counting, ABC election analyst Antony Green says.
An average of opinion polls puts Labor ahead of the coalition 53-47 on a two- party preferred basis, which would deliver Mr Shorten a comfortable majority.
Half the Senate is up for re-election, with a number of crossbenchers expected to lose their seats while the major parties consolidate their numbers.
Meanwhile, the Liberal National Party pre-selected marketing expert Angie Bell as its candidate for the safe Gold Coast seat of Moncrieff, being vacated by former minister Steve Ciobo.