Game on as Gillard pulls an election surprise
What was she thinking?
Lenore Taylor and Michelle Grattan analyse Julia Gillard's decision to name the election date more than seven months in advance.
Julia Gillard should be congratulated for nipping six months of election speculation in the bud - and calling a September 14 election.
In the name of certainty, she has surrendered a level of tactical surprise that has always been one of the key advantages of incumbency.
Indeed, the foregoing of this prime ministerial prerogative is unprecedented.
But in announcing that the Parliament will run its full term, Ms Gillard has confirmed what was always her stated intention.
The truth is that Labor was going to need the full term if it was to have any prospect of recovering from its diabolical position in the polls before the carbon tax was introduced last year.
Tony Abbott remains the clear favourite to become prime minister in September, but Ms Gillard has set a direction that maximises Labor's chances of an improbable victory.
Her argument for taking the public into her confidence - to give transparency and shape to the year - is also the case for introducing fixed election dates, but Ms Gillard made it plain that this announcement is not a forerunner to such a reform.
While she proposed a clear delineation between developing and announcing policy and electioneering once Parliament is dissolved on August 12, this is simply not going to happen.
The campaign starts now.
Or, in the words she once used in another context: Game on!
Poll: What do you think of Julia Gillard's decision to call an election now?
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