Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said “no determination whatsoever” has been made on an election date and he wants to attend a Group of 20 summit in Russia on Sept. 5-6, making a vote early next month less likely. The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that Rudd will visit the governor-general tomorrow or Aug. 5 to seek approval for an election on Sept. 7, citing unidentified people. “I’ve made no determination whatsoever in terms of the date of an election,” Rudd, who’s obliged to call an election by Nov. 30, told reporters in Brisbane today. “It’s my intention to be in St. Petersburg. But I’m very mindful, also, of the other challenges which lie ahead of us.”
An academic and former advisor to Julian Assange’s legal team has claimed the WikiLeaks founder will face significant eligibility and constitutional hurdles in his bid for an upper-house seat. WikiLeaks last week (30 January) confirmed that Assange would “run on a WikiLeaks party ticket” after Prime Minister Julia Gillard called an election for 14 September. Graeme Orr (pictured), a professor who specialises in the law of politics at the University of Queensland, told Lawyers Weekly that he was approached by Assange’s lawyers last year to provide advice on a potential Senate bid by the controversial activist. Orr claimed Assange’s first hurdle is being eligible to stand, which, under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, requires candidates to be registered to vote. “It is public knowledge that [Assange] is not on the electoral roll,” said Orr.
In the marginal Labor seat of Reid, in western Sydney, Julia Gillard’s decision to trigger the start of the longest election campaign in Australian political history was greeted with surprise — and not a little cynicism. “She’s probably done it to head off another leadership challenge,” was the snap reaction of one customer in the Speedy Bean Espresso Bar as news broke Wednesday that Australia’s prime minister had wrong-footed the whole country by announcing the election date of Sept. 14. The poll had to take place by the end of the year, but the hugely unpopular Labor government did not have to give the opposition, which has led in almost every opinion poll for the best part of two years, such a head start on timing. Gillard explained it by saying that she was putting policy before election politics. “It is not right for Australians to be forced into a guessing game, and it’s not right for Australians to not face this year with certainty and stability,” Gillard said.