30 Jan 2013

Australian PM names date for election

10:07 pm on 30 January 2013

Australia's Prime Minister has unexpectedly announced that the next general election will take place in September.

Julia Gillard made the surprise announcement while speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, saying the early notice will allow for what she called "cool and reasoned deliberation" before polling day on 14 September.

The Labor leader said she wanted to avoid the "carry on" that usually arises from constant speculation of the likely date of the poll during an election year.

She did not need to call an election until as late as 30 November.

Ms Gillard said announcing the date this far out would allow certainty and structure to her government's plans for the country and give the Opposition a chance to lay out its policies, the ABC reports.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott welcomed the election date announcement, saying his party is ready, but another opposition MP, Josh Frydenberg, has criticised the timing.

Mr Frydenberg says 14 September is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people.

Julia Gillard heads up a minority government and has been struggling in the polls which regularly show that voters prefer the man she ousted as Labor leader in 2010, the former prime minister Kevin Rudd, the BBC reports.