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Published 30 January 2013 13:04, Updated 31 January 2013 06:33
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says her early announcement will give “shape and order to the year”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a federal election on September 14, seting the scene for a drawn out campaign.
Gillard made the surprise announcement during an address to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
The Labor leader said she wanted to avoid the "carry on" that usually arises from constant speculation of the likely date of the poll during an election year and create an environment in which voters could be more easily focused on national issues, rather than "petty politics".
"I can act so Australia's parliament and government serves their full three-year term, so it is clear and certain when the election will be held," Gillard said.
"So today I announce that I will advise the governor-general to dissolve the House of Representatives and issue the writs on Monday, August 12, for an election for the house and half the Senate to be held on Saturday, the 14th of September."
Last week federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott began preparing the Coalition for a campaign year with a call for a grassroots campaign and plans for whistle-stop tour around the country.
Abbott said the Opposition was ready for the election.
Australians would be offered a clear choice, he said. “It’s more tax or less. It’s more regulation or less. It’s less competence or more. It’s less freedom or more,” he said.
“That’s the clear choice facing the Australian people on September the 14th.”
Gillard said the early announcement would give “shape and order to the year”.
"I do so not to start the nation's longest election campaign, quite the opposite," she said.
"It should be clear to all which are the days of governing, and which are the days of campaigning."
Gillard said the announcement would allow businesses and individuals to make more certain plans. The year would not be one of “fevered campaigning but of cool and reasoned deliberation," she said.
On Wednesday afternoon betting company Sportsbet was offering $1.25 for a Coalition victory and $3.75 for a Labor victory.
Independent Rob Oakeshott welcomed what he described as the “certainty” the announcement would bring. The announcement would mean that the federal parliament would run full term, he said in a post on Twitter.
Fellow independent Tony Windsor also welcomed the announcement. "In the past, Australians have been frustratingly on 'election alert' for long periods of time,” he said in a statement. Windsor said the current hung parliament, “if you believe the Opposition Leader and some sections of the media", had been on the brink of an election from the outset.
ACTU president Ged Kearney said Australians were hoping the election meant that “the time has finally come to discuss job and income security”. Kearney also challenged the Opposition to reveal the workplace policies it would be taking to the election.
- with AAP