By Julian Bajkowski
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a federal election for Saturday September the 14th, setting the stage for long campaign in the hope of winning back voters.
In a message to supporters, the PM said that the government would continue to deliver important policies, but also cautioned that the long-lead time would require focus on the everyday tasks of running the country.
“For now, I want to be clear that while there are many days of hard campaigning ahead of us, these are the days for governing,” Ms Gillard said.
The September date gives the government substantial time to sell and deliver policy incentives and handouts to voters following the Budget in May that is expected to return to deficit on the back of paltry returned from the mining tax.
However the election date has already been attacked by Liberal MPs Josh Frydenberg and Malcolm Turnbull as it falls on the same day as the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
“This disenfranchises many Jewish Australians and is incredibly sloppy work,” Mr Frydenberg said on Twitter.
However news agencies have reported Jewish community and religious leaders saying that the September 14 date is not religiously problematic because elections are frequently held on the Jewish Sabbath.
Less clear is what consequences the calling of the election date will have on a proposed referendum on Constitutional recognition of local government that proponents want to be held on the same day of the election.
The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government has recommended the referendum go ahead in a preliminary report, however Liberal members issued a dissenting until the full committee report is released in March.
It is understood that supporters of the referendum are still holding a candle for it to occur given the long run-up to the election.
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