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The election - any date won't do

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 14 February 2013


Within our parliamentary system it is within the remit of the Prime Minister of the day to call the election, with regard to certain constitutional constraints but essentially at a time of their choosing.

It can be argued that any date a Prime Minister chooses for an election will not suit every voter, or that someone somewhere will be inconvenienced.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard sought to justify her decision to announce the date of 14 September for the election, seven months earlier than expected, on the grounds that it "enables individuals and business, investors and consumers, to plan their year."

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Yet this particular date of Saturday 14 September 2013 has a number of serious implications that raise questions about Julia Gillard's judgement.

One of the first objections raised against this particular date came from Australia's Jewish community, as the election clashes with the holiest date on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.

Jewish people observing the day are required to refrain from work or from attending a Synagogue and will fast for up to 25 hours including refraining from consuming beverages.

The 2006 Census found there are around 90,000 Jewish people living in Australia.

There is no doubt that having a federal election on 14 September will cause a number of them significant difficulty in terms of voting on the day or otherwise taking part in the election process.

A second objection came from the AFL as September is finals month and the semi-final matches are scheduled for that weekend.

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Coverage of the election will be a major competitor to the media coverage of the game.

The AFL is considering its scheduling options.

The NRL would undoubtedly also hold similar concerns about the impact on any games scheduled for that weekend.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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