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PM "undecided" on election date


Voters are still none the wiser about exactly when they will be casting their ballots in the federal election.

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But Scott Morrison has ruled out calling a snap poll in the next 24 hours.

The prime minister has recommitted to allowing Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to deliver his budget reply tonight.

“I did that ages ago,” Morrison told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“I committed to that last year, why would that change?”

There has been some speculation he could pull a political swifty and pay an early visit to the governor-general, denying Shorten the opportunity to pitch an alternative economic vision.

Despite delivering his much-vaunted surplus budget, Morrison still isn’t giving any hints away on the budget date.

He is expected to visit the Queen’s man in Canberra some time between Friday and Sunday, asking Sir Peter Cosgrove to dissolve parliament and declare an election.

But the Liberal leader was keeping mum on Wednesday, saying there were three polling days available to him – May 11, 18 or 25.

“They’re the options we have and when I decide to go out to the governor-general, then people will see that car drive out to Yarralumla,” he told Nine’s Today show.

Asked if he had made a decision on a date, Morrison said: “No. Not yet.”

Shorten challenged the prime minister to bring it on.

“I think Mr Morrison should call the election and get on with it,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to be about this budget. It’s going to be about who’s got a positive plan for the future.”

There has to be a minimum of 33 days campaigning before voters head to the polls.

According to ABC election analyst Antony Green, the government needs to hold a standard general election before May 18 – meaning the prime minister will have to call it by April 15.

Stretching out to May 25 what would push the current parliament to its absolute limit and could make the electoral commission’s task to get the votes counted ahead of the Senate’s expiry at the end of June very difficult.

Mr Morrison was reportedly considering that date earlier in the year, with the suggestion the government could give the Australian Electoral Commission a budget boost to get the count done faster.

Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers appeared to nix that idea, telling a Senate committee in February it wasn’t just a question of resources, but also adhering to relevant laws.


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