Kevin Rudd’s changes to the Labor leadership election process (of which more later from me) will be considered, and almost certainly adopted by Caucus today. Today is the last date on which an election can be called for August 24. An election for August 31 could be called by next Monday.
If the PM doesn’t call the poll this week or next, I think Parliament needs to sit again on August 20. That could be messy for Labor, with the positions of the various independents difficult to predict accurately, and with the detail of various initiatives announced subject to scrutiny and debate, with the risk that some may unravel.
The big risk, clearly, with the “PNG Solution” (aside from its unpredictable effect on the intentions of refugees and people smugglers), is that the detail cannot have entirely been thought through in the time available.
Rudd has portrayed himself as a PM of the People, rising above politics, and inevitably, Parliament sitting would drag him down into the mire. He also needs to counter any return to Malcolm Turnbull by the Tories or to another leader. Tony Abbott has opened up that space by his hamfisted performance of late, and a weakened Opposition Leader will be the one Rudd wants to face.
Against an August election would be the fact that so far Rudd Labor has largely just said stuff, rather than done stuff. In his audacious bid to reset political debate across the board, sketching in the canvas of a “competitiveness economy” to steer us through the post-mining boom era is on the to do list.
Politically, too, it’s clear that Rudd wants Labor to be ahead of the Coalition in the polls, not just level pegging. Then any erosion of the vote during the campaign need not imply a loss.
I am loath to add to the tedious game of election date guessing, and I support fixed terms (though the announcement of a date well in advance worked neither for Anna Bligh in Queensland nor Julia Gillard federally). But I’m conscious of the fact that the campaign might be called today, so it’s just as well to have a thread handy.
Update: Thanks to Charles Richardson for correcting my misapprehension of election timing, and for pointing to us to Antony Green’s post.