Talk cools on early election

Senior government figures and political pundits are talking down the prospect of an early federal election, as a new poll shows Labor remains ahead of the coalition.


The Seven ReachTel poll points to a two-party preferred lead of 52 per cent for the opposition against 48 per cent for the government.

It also shows voters prefer Labor leader Bill Shorten over incumbent Tony Abbott as prime minister, at 56.3 per cent to 43.7 per cent.

This is despite Mr Shorten’s recent woes over his upcoming appearance at the unions corruption royal commission and admission he lied about talks he had in during the June 2013 Labor leadership saga when Kevin Rudd was seeking support to overthrow Julia Gillard as prime minister.

Liberal Party strategists will brief Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other members in Melbourne over the weekend on the state of preparations for an election, due around September 2016.

As MPs and senators left Canberra for the six-week winter break, speculation swirled that a poll could be called before parliament resumes in mid-August.

But ministers say the coalition remains committed to serving a full three-year term.

“We made it very clear that we’ve got a lot to do and we need a full term to do it,” Social Services Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

Asked whether there would be an early election this year, Mr Morrison said: “That’s a matter for the prime minister, but I refer you to what he has said and the message is very clear: we have a big agenda and we’ll need the term to deliver it.”

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg insisted the government was focused on getting on with the job.

“There is a lot of work to do,” he said.

Election analyst Antony Green said an early election would be problematic in terms of the timing of future lower house and Senate elections.

The only options before August 6 next year are a House-only election or a double-dissolution of the lower house and the full Senate.

A House-only election would put the two houses out of sync.

Mr Green said the governor-general would be entitled to ask why a double-dissolution election was necessary, given that the only trigger – blocked clean energy finance laws – had not been presented to the Senate post-July 2014 when the numbers changed.

“It’s a problematic trigger,” Mr Green told ABC radio on Friday.

An election after July 1 next year – close to when it is due – was a “more realistic option”.

Opposition frontbencher Anthony Albanese said he was confident Labor would win the next election whenever it’s called.

“Labor has held the government to account, particularly with regard to its agenda of cuts – cuts to education, cuts to health, cuts to public transport funding, cuts to the ABC and SBS,” he said.

However, The ReachTel poll of almost 3000 voters showed more trusted the coalition to handle national security, at 52.6 per cent to Labor on 47.4 per cent.