Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Labor is ready for an election campaign whenever Prime Minister Scott Morrison decides to call the poll.
- Mr Morrison has previously stated a poll could be held on May 11, 18 or 25
- Ending a federal term remains at the discretion of the Prime Minister of the day
- Members of the House of Representatives have left Canberra
Speculation is swirling around when Mr Morrison will call on the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call a general election, given the Budget and Opposition reply have now been delivered.
He has previously stated a poll could be held on May 11, 18 or 25 — although the first two dates appear more likely, given the pressure a later election would place on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to count the votes before the constitutional deadline to return the results.
“We’re ready whenever he decides to call the election on a Sunday this week or a Sunday next week,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Launceston.
“Quite frankly, if the Prime Minister wants to play games about when he calls the election, I’m just not interested.
“We can’t waste any more time of the nation.”
Despite the states and territories embracing fixed terms for their parliaments, ending a federal term remains at the discretion of the Prime Minister of the day.
Some sources suggest Mr Morrison could call the election as early as Sunday, while others argue he will wait another week and spend coming days spruiking the budget delivered by his Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.
“Well, as you know the timing of the election is the Prime Minister’s decision and decision alone, and it will be made in due course,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Ocean Grove, in the ultra-marginal seat of Corangamite.
“The election will soon be upon us, but the contest will be very clear.”
The campaign pitches of the major parties are already clear, with the Coalition focussing on its perceived strength on economic management, and Labor pledging extra funding for education and health.
Members of the House of Representatives have left Canberra, unlikely to return before the election is called. Senators are still slated to hold post-budget estimates hearings next week, but they could be cancelled if Mr Morrison calls the election on Sunday.
Regardless of the uncertain schedules of the nation’s elected representatives, staffers for the major political parties have already begun being dispatched to their campaign headquarters — the Coalition in Brisbane for the duration, and Labor in Parramatta.