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When Will The Next Federal Election Be Held?

The latest possible date for the next general election is Saturday 12 January 2002.

This is because election dates are determined partly by requirements in the Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

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.

Polling day, according to Section 157, must take place between 23 and 31 days from the date of nominations. Section 158 requires that polling day be a Saturday.

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.

A Double Dissolution election is no longer possible, since Section 57 of the Constitution does not permit this in the last six months of the term of the House of Representatives.

Summarising this:

2001 Election Timetable
Stage Requirement Provisions
Latest Date


Dissolution Not later than 3 years from the first meeting of the House Constitution, Sections 5 and 28
November 10, 2001


Issue of Writs
(at 6pm)
Within 10 days of dissolution Constitution, Section 32,
Electoral Act, Sections 151 and 152
November 20, 2001


Close of Electoral Rolls
(at 8pm)
7 days after date of writ Electoral Act, Section 155
November 27, 2001


Nominations Close
(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


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Malcolm Farnsworth
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