Are we headed to an early election?

Just what we wanted — another election.
Just what we wanted — another election.

JITTERY Government MPs and hopeful Labor members talking up an early election might get more than they wished for - lots of elections.

An early poll in the House of Representatives is now on the list of options in corridor and back room discussions amid the uncertainty created by the citizenship chaos.

But it's unlikely to be taken up by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, unless he is forced into a poll by a vote of no-confidence following the elimination of a significant number of his MPs for holding dual citizenship.

This has never happened before.

The aim of an early election would be to wipe the citizenship slate clean and reinforce or improve the Coalition's hold on the Lower House.

Labor would see it as an early opportunity to take government.

However, ABC election analyst Antony Green warns an election for the House of Representatives would be just the start of a series of certainty-wrecking polls.

"Early House election means another House election + half-Senate May 2019, so 2 elections in 18 months for those insist on citizenship fix," Mr Green has tweeted.

Remember, it has been just 17 months since the July 2, 2016 double dissolution election.

The early option would mean, for example, the people of New England would be invited to vote for Barnaby Joyce on July 2 last year, again in the December 2 by-election this year, again in an early election, and yet again in May 2019.

Just what everyone wants, another election. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Just what everyone wants, another election. Picture: Dylan Robinson

That would be four times in just short of three years. You would have to love the candidate and enjoy voting to maintain your New England patience.

Further, federal redistributions of electorate boundaries are under way in South Australia, Victoria and the ACT. They would have to be rushed for an early election, and the parties might not have time to adjust.

A Prime Minister can call an election whenever it suits, but there are consequences for deviating from the schedule.

The next scheduled regular election - half the Senate and the House of Representatives - could be held at the earliest in August next year and at the latest in May 2019.

The latest a ballot for the House alone could be held is November, 2019, and for just the Senate it's between August next year and May 2019, according to research by the Parliamentary Library.

Meanwhile, state elections are under way in Queensland now, and due in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria before November next year.

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a press conference in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a press conference in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage

The political reality is a Government would not be rewarded for going to an early election to tidy up a mess created by its own people who could not sort out their future shop.

It would find it difficult to campaign on competence.

South Australian Liberal Rowan Ramsey is one of those expected to be affected by a redistribution and he has told ABC radio he is frustrated by the focus on citizenship.

"The people in the pub and down the golf club, they just think the whole world's gone mad. And why can't Canberra get it right," he said.

"Well, unfortunately it's not in our hands.

"Instead of talking about the most important issues, like electricity and energy supplies in Australia, we're talking about other things."

Topics:  election federal politics malcolm turnbull

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