Unfortunately, money is crucial to success in elections and this coming election is no different. The money raised by political parties is used to buy advertising, send out flyers, print posters, produce expensive television advertisements, undertake professional social media campaigns, and to run focus groups and opinion polls1. So, a political party that cannot attract sufficient funds is hamstrung in the lead up to an election, and it can mean the difference between winning and losing the election. Currently, the parties with a big problem in this regard are the Coalition parties. They are very short of cash. This is probably exacerbated by their dismal performance in opinion polls, leading to most of their big donors believing that the Coalition are likely to lose the coming federal election. Not wishing to throw good money after bad, these donors have been less than enthusiastic in kicking the Coalition tin. After all, if the politicians you want to buy are not going to be in government, then what is the point of trying to buy them?
Murdoch’s Sky News Australia journalist David Speers asked on Twitter as part of a promotion of his show to the Murdoch gullible: “The election will NOT be on May 11. May 18 now most likely date. Why is PM waiting another week?” Hopefully, this question would have been rhetorical, as someone with a modicum of experience in political journalism would easily realise why Prime Minister Scott is putting off visiting the Governor-General.
According to the timetable set out in the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the minimum time period from the issue of the writ for dissolution of the parliament to polling day is 33 days. The day the writ is issued is treated as day Zero and from there you count 33 days to the minimum campaign period3. This is provided that a half-Senate election and House of Representatives election are held concurrently4. That would require Morrison to visit the Governor General on or before April 15th. If Morrison is desperate enough and would risk the perception of financial profligacy, he could hold the half-Senate election on May 18th and have the House of Representatives election as late as November 2nd5. I suspect that is unlikely, as it would show that he is simply desperate to cling to power at any cost to the taxpayer, and that would give the opposition a fairly substantial cudgel with which to bash him. After the writs have been issued, then the government enters caretaker mode, which is a convention and is not written into the constitution6.
The reason Morrison is yet to call on the Governor-General is because, as stated above, the Coalition parties are so short of cash, that he needs us taxpayers to assist with his election campaign. Austender documents obtained by the Guardian show that, cumulatively, the government has committed more than $200 million for advertising since the beginning of 2018. As perhaps the most disgraceful example, the Infrastructure department has $1.75 million per week to spend on advertisements spruiking the government’s policies in the final six weeks before the election is called7. This is a disgraceful misuse of taxpayer funds. This government are so desperate they will do anything, even resorting to theft to fund their election campaign.