The latest possible date for the next general election is Saturday 12 January 2002.
Whilst the Prime Minister could delay an election until next January, in practice, the latest practical date for an election is Saturday 15 December 2001.
The Australian Constitution states in Section 28 that “every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first meeting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the Governor-General”.
Whilst the 1998 election was held on Saturday 3 October, the Parliament met for the first time on 10 November, so the 3-year term dates from that day.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act stipulates in Section 151 that the writs for an election must be issued within 10 days of the dissolution or expiration of the House. The form of the writ is set out in Section 152.
Section 155 of the Electoral Act requires that the electoral rolls must close within 7 days of the issuing of the writ.
According to Section 156 the nomination of candidates for the election must take place between 10 and 27 days after the issuing of the writ.
Section 159 of the Electoral Act requires that the return of the writs must be not more than 100 days after their issue. The return of the writs contains the final certified results for each electorate.
Section 5 of the Constitution requires that the new Parliament must meet within 30 days after the return of the writs.
|2001 Election Timetable|
|Dissolution||Not later than 3 years from the first meeting of the House||Constitution, Sections 5 and 28||
November 10, 2001
|Issue of Writs
|Within 10 days of dissolution||Constitution, Section 32,
Electoral Act, Sections 151 and 152
November 20, 2001
|Close of Electoral Rolls
|7 days after date of writ||Electoral Act, Section 155||
November 27, 2001
(at 12 noon)
|Not less than 10 days nor more than 27 days after date of writ||Electoral Act, Section 156||
December 17, 2001
|Date of Polling (a Saturday)||Not less than 23 days nor more than 31 days from date of nomination||Electoral Act, Sections 157 and 158||
Saturday January 12, 2002
|Return of Writs||Not more than 100 days after issue||Electoral Act, Section 159||
February 28, 2002
|Meeting of New Parliament||Not later than 30 days after the day appointed for return of writs||Constitution, Section 5||
March 30, 2002