This is the current situation regarding future election dates.
The next House of Representatives election is most likely to be held around October-December 2004. This would be three years since the last election on November 10, 2001.
The House does not have a fixed term and could be dissolved at any time before this date.
The term of the House is defined in the Constitution as three years from the first meeting of the House. Federal Parliament sat for the first time on February 11, 2002. This means that the next dissolution of the House of Representatives must take place by February 11, 2005. If the maximum times permitted under the Constitution and the Electoral Act are exploited, the latest possible date for an election is Saturday April 16, 2005.
A half-Senate election must be held sometime between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. Since the last election was in November 2001, it is most likely that a normal election for the House and half-Senate will be held around October-December 2004, or February-March 2005.
Given the requirements of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, an election for half of the Senate cannot be held until Saturday August 7, 2004. A House election alone before this date would have to be held without a half-Senate election. This would disrupt the synchronicity of elections for the two houses. It is unlikely that the Prime Minister would wish to create a situation where two elections would be required within a 12-month period.
A double dissolution election can be called provided the provisions of Section 57 of the Constitution have been met. As of November 2003, a number of double dissolution triggers exist, with more likely in the new year.
A double dissolution can be carried out at any time up to six months before the normal expiration of the House of Representatives, that is up until August 11, 2004. If the Parliament were dissolved on August 11, 2004, the elections could take place as late as Saturday October 16.
A double dissolution could take place in the first half of 2004, but is unlikely because the Constitution dictates that senators terms are then backdated to the previous July. This would ensure that an election for half of the Senate would have to take place within two years, disrupting the synchronicity of House and Senate elections or causing an early election of the House, as occurred in 1984. It is generally agreed that prime ministers wish to avoid this situation.
Hence, a double dissolution election is most likely to be held in September or early October 2004. A House and half-Senate election is most likely in the August-December 2004 period, but could be held as late as Saturday April 16, 2005.
NEW SOUTH WALES
The NSW Parliament has a fixed 4-year term. The next election will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2007.
With the passage of historic parliamentary and electoral reforms in March 2003, Victoria now has fixed 4-year terms for both Houses. The next election will be held on Saturday, November 25, 2006.
Queensland’s unicameral Parliament has a 3-year term. The next election is due around February 2004.
South Australia’s Parliament has a 4-year term. The next election is due around February 2006.
Western Australia’s Parliament has a 4-year term. The next election is due around February 2005.
Tasmania’s Parliament has a 4-year term. The next election is due around July 2006.
NORTHERN TERRITORYAUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
The unicameral ACT Parliament has a fixed 3-year term, with the election date set for the third Saturday of October. The next election will be held on Saturday, October 16, 2004.