Federal Election 2010

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has called the Federal Election for 21st August 2010.

The writs for the election were issued at 6pm on Monday 19 July 2010. From that time the Caretaker Conventions are in operation.

Details about the general timetable for the election and procedures that take place during campaign periods, such as the Caretaker Conventions, are available in a separate paper here.
In announcing the election, the Prime Minister said,
“This election, I believe, presents Australians with a very clear choice: this election is about the choice as to whether we move Australia forward or go back.”
The Prime Minister’s speech announcing the election is available at http://www.alp.org.au/federal-government/news/speech–julia-gillard,–opening-statement-at-press/.
The major parties will make policy announcements during the course of the campaign. Details will be available on the parties’ websites:
Electoral Pendulum
The Mackerras Electoral Pendulum is available here.
It shows the seats that are likely to be the most contentious.
The Current Parliament
The election will be a combined House of Representatives and half-Senate election.
Holding a combined House of Representative and half-Senate election is a generally considered a ‘normal’ election.   All Federal elections since 1990 have been ‘normal elections’ (in 1990, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004 & 2007).
The House of Representatives
The House of Representatives has 150 Members. Each Member represents an electoral division. The boundaries of these electorates are adjusted from time to time so that they all contain approximately equal numbers of electors—because of the distribution of Australia’s population they vary greatly in area.
Members are elected by a system known as preferential voting, under which voters rank candidates in order of preference. Each House of Representatives may continue for up to three years, after which general elections for a new House must be held. Elections are often held before the end of this period.
Currently, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) holds 88 seats (the majority). The Liberal Party holds 50 seats. The Nationals hold 9 seats. Independents hold 3 seats.
The Governor-General appoints the Government, and in effect, by determining which party is most likely to obtain/retain majority support in the House of Representatives.
The Prime Minister is usually chosen by the largest party that forms part of the Government.
The Australian Senate
The Senate is the ‘house of review’. It consists of 76 Senators, twelve from each of the six states and two from each of the two mainland territories.
Senators are elected by a system of proportional representation for a period of six years. A system of rotation, however, ensures that half of the Senate retires every three years.
The four Senators who represent the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are elected concurrently with members of the House of Representatives, and the duration of their term in office coincides with the term of the House of Representatives (i.e. a maximum of three years).
The current composition of the Senate is as follows:
  • 32 Labor Senators. 16 Labor Senators have terms of service expiring on 30 June 2011.
  • 37 Coalition Senators (made up of 32 Liberal Senators, 4 Nationals Senators, 1 Country Liberal Party Senator). 18 Liberal Senators, 2 Nationals Senators, and the Country Liberal Party Senator have terms of service expiring on 30 June 2011.
  • 5 Greens Senators. 2 Greens Senators have terms of service expiring on 30 June 2011.
  • 1 Family First Senator (Senator Steve Fielding). Senator Fielding’s term is due to expire on 30 June 2011.
  • 1 Independent Senator (Senator Nick Xenophon). Senator Xenophon’s term is due to expire on 30 June 2014.
A table showing the dates each Senator’s terms of service expire is available at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/senators/sen_exp.htm.
The most recent Newspoll Two Party Preferred figures (6-8 August 2010) have the ALP at 52 per cent and the Coalition at 48 per cent. (See here).
At the 2007 election, the Two Party Preferred vote was 52.7 per cent for the ALP and 47.3 per cent for the Coalition.
On the question of preferred Prime Minister, 49 per cent of people surveyed said they preferred Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, and 34 per cent favoured Tony Abbott.
Further information is available at www.newspoll.com.au.
The Betting Markets
The betting markets indicate that the ALP has an average implied win probability of 62.2 per cent.  The Coalition has an average implied win probability of 37.8 per cent.
Charts from Crikey Betting Market Round Up (9 August 2010).