August 16, 2018 06:00:50

After disappointing losses in the Super Saturday by-elections, Malcolm Turnbull is facing a federal election against a buoyed Bill Shorten.

But how long will he wait before he pulls the campaign trigger?

If you’re up for a punt, take your best shot. If not, skip the game and head to the spoilers.

Before you play, read the rules:

  1. A standard general election (where all Lower House seats and half of the Senate spots are up for grabs) must be held sometime between August 4, 2018 and May 18, 2019.
  2. The PM has made it clear he doesn’t want to send voters to the polls this year. Given that, and the recent by-election losses, let’s play on the assumption it will be a 2019 election.
  3. Elections in Australia are only called on Saturdays. So we’ve narrowed down the dates for you to Saturdays in 2019.

OK, make your best guess

Your options are:

  • January 5, 12, 19, 26
  • February 2, 9, 16, 23
  • March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • April 6, 13, 20, 27
  • May 4, 11, 18

Have you made your best pick? Let’s see how good your guess was.

If you guessed first thing in 2019

It’s still unlikely, but possible.

If the PM was keen on a summer-time election with temperatures as sizzling as the democracy sausages, we could see a January polling day.

But with most Australian families dealing with school holidays during this time, it would be an unpopular choice.

Best picks in this window: Not many, if any.

Worst picks in this window: January 26 (Australia Day! No way.)

If you guessed February 2019

You’re getting warmer.

But early February is still fairly unlikely because it would mean campaigning begins in the middle of summer, when people might be switched off from the news.

A late February election is probably the first weekend of 2019 that could fit the schedule. The kids are back at school and the year is underway.

Best picks in this window: February 23, but it’s not likely

Worst picks in this window: Early February

If you guessed March 2019

You could be on the money.

The best bet would be towards the beginning of the month, ahead of the New South Wales state election pencilled in for March 23.

Holding a federal poll after the NSW state election would see campaigning interrupted, and the impact of the state result could affect the federal result.

Even if the NSW election was moved, it would only be by a week or so, leaving voters in one of the most populous states dealing with double-intensity campaigning.

Best picks in this window: March 2 or March 9

Worst picks in this window: March 23 (NSW election is pencilled in for this date)

If you guessed April 2019

It’s tricky, but you could be right.

There’s really only one weekend in April that looks likely, because it’s far enough away from the NSW election to give voters there a bit of a breather, and before the Easter long weekend starts interfering.

Best picks in this window: April 13

Worst picks in this window: April 20 (Easter weekend — it’s a flat-out no)

If you guessed May 2019

You’re leaving it to the last window possible, but that could be bang-on.

Early May is tricky, given one of the last weekends of the campaign would be interrupted by Easter long weekend.

Mid-May is very close to the usual date for a Budget to be delivered, but of course the Budget could and would be moved depending on when the election is called.

In that case a mini-Budget would need to be delivered prior to the campaign starting to ensure the Government can keep functioning.

It is cutting it very fine though — May 18 is the last weekend available for a standard general election.

Best picks in this window: May 11, May 18

Worst picks in this window: May 4

Our best bet is …

A March or May 2019 election — in either the beginning of March or the middle of May.








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