When is the next federal election?


In political circles, the constant chatter is about the next federal election. Because there’s no fixed date for an Australian federal election, the rumour mill tends to go into overdrive every so often. Here’s what you need to know.

When can the election be held? 

The next federal election could be called today if the Prime Minister was inclined to do so. The last possible date the election could be held is 21 May, 2022.

But there is more to it 

Let’s take a step back. There are two chambers of the Federal Parliament – the House of Representatives (lower) and the Senate (upper). All members of the House of Representatives (including the PM) are elected for a three-year term, after which time the House expires. An election has to be called before that happens.  

Well from there, we have to add the Senate. Senators are elected for fixed six-year terms, with the dates staggered so that half the Senate expires every three years. Half of the current Senate will finish their terms on 30 June 2022. 

Taken together, the requirements for House and Senate elections mean that the possible window for Scott Morrison to call an election is between some time this year and May 21 of next year (remembering that elections have to be on a Saturday). He could call separate House and Senate elections, but that would be an extremely unusual step to take. 

But didn’t people say Morrison was going to call the election sometime this year? 

In the early months of this year, there was a lot of chatter about the possibility of the Prime Minister calling an election this year. That was on the back of the Government’s perceived success on the COVID-19 front and the fact that there was a gap in the sitting calendar. It was accepted that Morrison would likely call an election when his chances of winning were high. 

Since then, Morrison has confirmed on multiple occasions that he is a “full termer”, and that he won’t call an election this year. The cycle of lockdowns and concurrent health and economic impacts coupled with the initial vaccine rollout delays have dampened the likelihood of a 2021 election. That said, nothing is impossible!

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