Australian federal election, 2013
At the 2013 Australian federal election members will be elected for the 44th Parliament of Australia. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced it will be held on 14 September 2013. No writ of election has been issued, and the date is thus still subject to change, though it must be held no later than 30 November. The centre-left Labor minority government she leads will attempt to win a third term against the opposition centre-right Coalition led by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a Liberal.
At federal level, Australia has compulsory voting (since 1925) and uses a preferential ballot system (since 1919) in single-member seats for the House of Representatives and a single transferable vote system (since 1949) with optional group voting tickets (since 1984) in the proportionally representative Senate. The election will be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
Current Parliament 
House of Representatives 
At the 2010 federal election, Labor and the Liberal/National Coalition each won 72 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, four short of the requirement for majority government, resulting in the first hung parliament since the 1940 federal election. On the crossbench, one member of the Australian Greens, one member of the National Party of Western Australia, and four independent members held the balance of power. After gaining the support of the Greens and three independents on confidence and supply votes, Labor was able to form a minority government with a 76–74 margin.
Changes in House numbers 
On 24 November 2011, Harry Jenkins resigned as Speaker of the House of Representatives and returned to the Labor backbench. Later that day, Deputy Speaker Peter Slipper was elected Speaker and quit the Liberal National Party to become an independent. This changed nominal confidence and supply numbers on the floor of the house from 75–74 to 76–73. In January 2012, Andrew Wilkie declined to continue giving confidence to the incumbent government, changing numbers to 75–73 in the event of his abstention, or 75–74 in the event of his support for a vote of no confidence in the government. In April 2012, Labor's Craig Thomson moved to the crossbenches as an independent MP, and in May, WA National Tony Crook moved from the crossbenches to the Nationals, and therefore the Coalition. Changes brought the government to 71 seats, the Coalition 72 seats, and seven crossbenchers. On 9 October 2012, after an unsuccessful vote of no confidence in the Speakership, Slipper resigned as Speaker and was replaced by Labor Deputy Speaker Anna Burke. Slipper remains an independent MP.
Currently, the 76-seat Senate is made up of senators from the Coalition (34), Australian Labor Party (31), Australian Greens (9), Democratic Labor Party (1), and one independent senator, Nick Xenophon. The Greens hold the sole balance of power. Previously the Greens held a shared balance of power with the Family First Party and Xenophon.
Of the 76 Senate seats, 40 are to be contested. This corresponds to half of each state's allocation as well as both senators from each of the territories. The table below summarises the seats that will be contested.
|SA||6||2||2||1||1 (Ind., Xenophon)|
|Hold over 2010||36||13||16||6||1 (DLP)|
Factors affecting the date of the election 
The precise date of the next election is a matter for the Prime Minister to determine, and the Governor-General is bound by convention to accept the Prime Minister's advice, assuming it is consistent with the Constitution of Australia and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA).
Election period 
On 30 January 2013, at a speech at the National Press Club, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the election would be held on Saturday 14 September 2013. She said she has not yet formally advised the Governor-General but that this would be done in time for the writs of election to be issued on 12 August 2013; it therefore remains possible the date could change.
"Election period" means:
(a) in relation to any other election to a Parliament – the period that starts on:
– (i) the day on which the proposed polling day for the election is publicly announced; or
- (ii) the day on which the writs for the election are issued;
whichever happens first, and ends at the close of the poll on the polling day for the election;
b. (i) If, during an election period, a broadcaster broadcasts election matter, the broadcaster must give reasonable opportunities for the broadcasting of election matter to all political parties contesting the election, being parties which were represented in either House of the Parliament for which the election is to be held at the time of its last meeting before the election period.
This is interpreted as "equal time, over time" rather than equal time in the same broadcast, and that this requirement began with the announcement on 30 January 2013.
Latest possible date 
The next federal election cannot be held later than Saturday 30 November 2013. This date is determined as follows:
|Constitution: Section 28||The House of Representatives has a maximum term of three years||Following the 2010 election, the 43rd Parliament first met on 28 September 2010 and will expire on 27 September 2013|
|Constitution: Section 32||Writs must be issued within 10 days of the expiry of the House||10 days after 27 September 2013 is 7 October 2013|
|CEA: Section 156 (1)||Nominations of candidates must close at least 10 days but no more than 27 days after the date of the writ||27 days after 7 October 2013 is 3 November 2013|
|CEA: Section 157||Election day must be at least 23 days but no more than 31 days after close of nominations||31 days after 3 November 2013 is Wednesday 4 December 2013|
|CEA: Section 158||Election day must be a Saturday||The Saturday prior to 4 December is 30 November 2013|
Note that Section 28 of the Constitution also allows the House to be dissolved earlier than the maximum term. The Prime Minister may advise the Governor-General at any time to dissolve the Parliament and issue writs for a new election. Of Australia's 42 completed parliaments, only one, the 3rd Parliament (1907–1910), continued for the full three years; all the others were dissolved earlier.
- Section 12 of the Constitution says: "The Governor of any State may cause writs to be issued for the election of Senators for that State"
- Section 13 of the Constitution provides that the election of Senators shall be held in the period of twelve months before the places become vacant.
Federal elections usually consist of a full election for the lower house, and an election for approximately half the membership of the Senate, held on the same day. However, it is possible for the elections for the Houses to become unsynchronised due to early elections. The Constitution requires a half-Senate election to be held between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014, but the first possible date consistent with other requirements would be 3 August 2013. Should the current parliament run to or near its full term (27 September 2013), the elections for the two Houses would coincide. However, if a House of Representatives election is held earlier than 3 August 2013, a separate half-Senate election would be required.
A double dissolution, which would have involved the entire parliament being elected, is no longer possible. There are two reasons for this: (a) No legislation has been twice blocked by the Senate, hence there is no trigger for a double dissolution. (b) A double dissolution is prohibited within the six months before the expiry of the parliament by effluxion of time. Unless it is dissolved earlier, the parliament will expire on 27 September, so a double dissolution could only have occurred on or before 27 March 2013.
Hung parliament 
The current parliament is a hung parliament. It is therefore possible that the government may change without an election if the cross-bench members decide to change their support to the opposition. This last happened following the 1940 federal election when crossbenchers changed their support from the UAP's Robert Menzies to Labor's John Curtin. It is also possible that the government might fall with no one party or group being able to command the confidence of the House of Representatives, which would trigger an election. The Government could lose its majority because a member of one of the government parties died, resigned, or otherwise lost office, triggering a by-election. To avoid triggering a general election in these circumstances, the Prime Minister could advise the Governor-General to suspend ("prorogue") parliament until the outcome of the by-election was known. Alternatively, the Opposition could agree to voluntarily suspend one of its number voting so that the government retains an effective majority. This is a practice known as "pairing".
Retiring MPs and Senators 
Where a Member of the House of Representatives does not renominate to contest the election, their term will end at the dissolution of the parliament.
Where a Senator does not renominate to contest the election, their term will end on 30 June 2014, unless they represent the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, in which case their term will end on 13 September 2013, the day before polling day. That date also applies to territory senators who contest the election but are defeated.
Members and Senators who have indicated their intention to retire are as follows:
- Steve Gibbons MP (Bendigo, Vic) – announced retirement 29 August 2011
- Sharon Grierson MP (Newcastle, NSW) – announced retirement 18 July 2012
- Harry Jenkins MP (Scullin, Vic) – announced retirement 26 July 2012
- Kirsten Livermore MP (Capricornia, Qld) – announced retirement 27 November 2012
- Robert McClelland MP (Barton, NSW) – announced retirement 29 January 2013
- Nicola Roxon MP (Gellibrand, VIC) – announced retirement 2 February 2013
- Senator Trish Crossin (NT) – confirmed she will not be standing after losing preselection 28 January 2013
- Senator John Hogg (Qld) – announced retirement 10 August 2012
- Senator Mark Bishop (WA) – announced retirement 15 April 2013 
- Joanna Gash MP (Gilmore, NSW) – announced retirement 25 January 2012
- Judi Moylan MP (Pearce, WA) – announced retirement 28 July 2011
- Alby Schultz MP (Hume, NSW) – announced retirement 17 April 2012
- Mal Washer MP (Moore, WA) – announced retirement 28 July 2011
- Senator Alan Eggleston (WA) – announced retirement 9 April 2012
- Paul Neville MP (Hinkler, Qld) − announced retirement 10 October 2012
- Alex Somlyay MP (Fairfax, Qld) – announced retirement 25 September 2010
- Senator Ron Boswell (Qld) – announced retirement 21 September 2012
- Senator Sue Boyce (Qld) – announced retirement 8 October 2012
WA Nationals 
|Primary Vote||Two Party Preferred|
|Better Prime Minister||Net Leadership Satisfaction|
2013 election campaign timeline 
- 30 January – Julia Gillard announces planned election date of 14 September 2013.
- 31 January – Independent Member for Dobell Craig Thomson (a former ALP member) is arrested for alleged fraud
- 2 February – Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announces she will be retiring at the election. Higher Education Minister Senator Chris Evans, whose term was not due to finish until 2017, announces he will be resigning in the near future.
- 19 February – Greens leader Christine Milne announces that the alliance agreement with the ALP is over, but her party will not vote against confidence or supply.
- 26 February – Gillard announces she will 'campaign' in western Sydney for the following week, from Sunday night until Friday. It is announced that she will pay for her accommodation, as will her staff and the Sydney-based Ministers and their staff, as they have accommodation in Sydney and so are not entitled to travelling allowance.
- 19 March – Richard Torbay is forced to resign from The Nationals, forfeiting his candidature for the Division of New England. Barnaby Joyce puts his name forward as a possible replacement candidate, hoping to move from the Senate to the House of Representatives.
- 21 March – Simon Crean asks Gillard for a party leadership vote, and publicly declares his support for Kevin Rudd. In parliament, the Opposition attempts to suspend standing orders for a no confidence vote and although gaining 73 votes to the government's 71 votes, fails to gain the absolute majority of 76 votes required. Crean is sacked from the ministry. At the leadership ballot no alternative candidate nominates, and Gillard is re-elected as ALP leader unopposed. Rudd supporters Joel Fitzgibbon, Ed Husic, Janelle Saffin, and Richard Marles quit their positions in the executive government.
- 22 March – Rudd issues a statement that he will never again return to the ALP leadership. Kim Carr, Martin Ferguson, and Chris Bowen quit their ministries.
- 23 March – Key independent MP Andrew Wilkie warns that ongoing instability within the ALP means the government will have difficulty surviving a vote of confidence when parliament resumes in May.
- 2 May - The Opposition indicates it will support the Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme policy, including an increase in the Medicare Levy from 1.5% to 2%.
Party policies for the 2013 election 
- Australian Greens policies
- Australian Labor Party policies
- Katter's Australian Party policies
- Liberal Party of Australia policies
- The Nationals policies
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