Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is delaying the election on purpose so as maximise Government access to taxpayer advertising money.
It is understood that unless Mr Morrison asks the Governor General this weekend, a previously predicted May 11 election date would not be possible. This has meant that May 18 and May 25 are likely dates, but the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has said this delay would make counting votes harder before they are obligated to return results.
When asked about a specific date, Mr Morrison has only said that the election “will be called in April and Held in May.”
Because the Government needs to seek Opposition approval to continue political advertisements after election writs are issued, Mr Shorten says that the Prime Minister is dragging his feet so that he can spend “tens of millions in TV advertising to pump up their own tyres”.
Labor’s Anthony Albanese has accused the Government of wasting taxpayer money. Labor has put out figures showing that Government has spend around $250 million on advertising since last January.
The Government has called these figures false as they referenced tender documents and not the final price.
Mr Morrison said that was “not going to take lectures from the Labor Party that defied every single convention that has been known to Australian elections, when they ran taxpayer-funded ads during the 2013 caretaker period,”
He added that “these arrangements are done according to strict guidelines” as well as supervised by “impartial” departments.
In a television appearance on the ABC Insider’s program, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that all of the government spend on advertising was “in accordance with approved processes, and that’s all transparent.”