Why has Gillard picked September 14?

Few could have predicted the next election date, together with such a long election campaign to come - political blogger Malcolm Farnsworth did, and explains why to SBS reporter Andy Park.

September 14 is the date now on everybody's lips.

The date of the next Australian federal election, it's a date that everyone wanted to know, but no one was bold enough to predict. Well almost no one.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard called the election today, with a seven-and-a-half month election campaign ahead.

But one political columnist not only predicted the date down to one in three possible dates, but also called the possibility of a long lead time.

Blogger Malcolm Farnsworth from australianpolitics.com said that there are two schools of thought as to why Prime Minister Julia Gillard has chosen to take Australians to the polls in September.

"One is that this is an act of leadership by Gillard following on from the selection of Nova Peris last week. The other view is that it's also akin to an act of desperation from a government that really is on the ropes," Mr Farnsworth said.

He said it's one of the longest lead times before and election on record in Australian politics, trumping even the Victorian poll of 1979.

"Rupert Hamer, the Liberal premier of Victoria announced the election in February; the election was held in May, and compared to Gillard that's not much lead time at all."

Mr Farnsworth drew comparisons to John Key, the incumbent Prime Minister of New Zealand in 2011, announcing a November election date in February of that year.

But Mr Farnsworth said the underlying reason why Australia will vote on the next federal government in September can be summed up in two words.

“Tony Abbott. The government sees a sliver light in it's attitude to Tony Abbott, they hope they can turn the pressure on him to stop the so-called 'relentless negativity', they want to get him focused on policy potential budget cuts,” he said.

“By getting the election date out in the air, it allows to them to focus on those political issues.”

LISTEN to more analysis from Malcolm Farnsworth:

Source: SBS