Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Enroll Now, Before It’s Too Late

The suspense is building. A sense of anticipation is growing. One day, perhaps very soon, our new Prime Minister will take a drive to Yarralumla and have a cup of tea with the Governor General and ask for the Parliament to be dissolved so that an election date can be set. Every move of the Prime Minister is watched in the expectation that she could make her move at any moment. Reporters are already camped out in front of the Governor General’s residence, and every time a large white car passes by they all hold their breath as they fight back the palpitations. Could this be the moment? Is history about to be made? Almost every observer is expecting the big moment to come before the end of this week.

Of course, it’s not just idle speculation. There have been some clues. First there was the Prime Minister’s own indication that an election would be preceded by efforts to deal with three big issues. The first was the mining tax. For so long, the RSPT was dominating the front pages, but now that it has been replaced by the MRRT barely more than a week ago it has all become ancient history. Mining tax? What mining tax? Second was asylum seekers. Enter the East Timor Solution, which may not have gone quite as smoothly as the Prime Minister had hoped, but the early opinion polls seem to at least reflect some approval that there has at least been a policy announced, no matter how much it might resemble smoke seen through a mirror.

Thirdly, there is the matter of climate change policy, and while it remains to be seen whether anything more than just more hot air is emitted, it is believed that the Cabinet meeting today is signing off on something to take to the polls. Even if it is just a plan to make a plan, if there is an announcement of any kind in the next 24 hours or so, then all the lights are green. There is one further piece of crucial evidence that has been seized upon by the waiting hordes of journalists. The Governor General is due to travel overseas this week to attend the dedication ceremony at the military cemetery at Fromelles, but yesterday announced that her departure will be delayed until Saturday afternoon. The hounds of the press immediately fell upon this as an indication that the Prime Minister might be planning to call upon the Governor General on Saturday morning.

Now, that might not be the case, and all that rabid speculation might turn out to be off the mark. But just say for a moment that it is correct and the Governor General dissolves the Parliament this week. What happens then? Well, the first and most important thing is that the election writs must issued within ten days, the roles will close at 8pm on the day of the writs being issued, nominations will close anywhere between 10 and 37 days after that, and the actual election will be held anywhere from 23 to 31 days after the close of nominations. This means that am election can be held anywhere between 33 and 68 days from when it is announced. If the Prime Minister visits the Governor General tomorrow, we could be voting as soon as the 21st of August. It also means that if your enrollment details are not up to date you are running out of time to make sure that your vote will count.

And if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to grumble about who gets elected.

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