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As you would have seen in the media, this morning Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the Governor-General and asked him to take a series of actions necessary to enable elections of both Houses of Parliament on Saturday, 18 May 2019.

The Prime Minister’s request triggered a series of actions in accordance with Australia’s Constitution and electoral laws.  The process starts with the authority for holding an election, which is in the form of a writ, issued by the Governor-General.

The writs of general elections of the House of Representatives specify the dates, as explained in the table below. Eight writs are issued for a general election, one for each of the six States and the two Territories.

Table 1 Timetable for 2019 General election 

Stage

Constitutional Limitation

Dates relating to the 2019 General Election

Dissolution

 

8.30 am on Thursday, 11 April 2019

Issue of the writs

(at 6 pm)

Within 10 days of dissolution

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Close of electoral rolls

(at 8 pm)

7 days after the writ

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Close of Nomination of candidates

(at 12 noon)

Not less than 10 days nor more than 27 days after date of writ

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Date of Polling

(a Saturday)

Not less than 23 days nor more than 31 days from the date of nomination

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Return of writs

Not more than 100 days after issue

Saturday, 28 June 2019

(latest date)

Meeting of new Parliament

Not later than 30 days after the day appointed for the return of writs

 


Between now and the Tuesday after Easter, those wishing to run for parliament must follow a set of strict procedures under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Screen Shot 2019 04 11 at 4.11.30 PMTo contest an election to the House of representatives, a person must be nominated by at least 100 electors in the electorate they are seeking to contest, or by the registered officer of the party endorsing them as a candidate. A candidate who is a ‘sitting independent’ Member needs nomination by only one elector.

Senators are elected on a different basis to Members of the House of Representatives. Each State or Territory votes has one electorate and twelve Senators are chosen for each State and two Senators for each of the two Territories.

There is an election for half of the State Senators every third year and while it isn’t necessary for half-Senate elections and elections for the House of Representatives to occur at the same time, they generally do, and they will in 2019.

Generally State Senators serve for six years from the beginning of their term of service, while Territory Senators serve until the day before the poll of the next general election.

Candidates of registered political parties can be nominated in bulk, which must occur no later than 48 hours prior to the close of nominations.

A valid nomination must include:

  • candidate’s consent;
  • candidate’s declaration that they are qualified under the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives;
  • candidate’s declaration that they will not be a candidate for any other election held on the same day;
  • candidate’s details of their Australian citizenship; and
  • a deposit of $1,000 for a member, $2,000 for a Senator, which is returned if the candidate is elected or polls at least four percent of the first preference votes.

A candidate at the hour of nomination can not be a Member of a State Parliament or Territory Assembly, and a Member of the Senate or the House must resign to contest an election for the House which they are not a Member.

Finally, a candidate must not hold any office of profit under the Crown.

These requirements have proved to be problematic for several politicians in recent years – who could forget all those resignations because of dual citizenship which triggered by-elections last year?  Against this backdrop, it will be a busy and stressful 10 days for party officials around the country to pull together valid bulk nominations for their state or territory, particularly when two of those days are public holidays!

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