Speculation mounts for election timing

Anthony Albanese(l) says it's possible Scott Morrison will call a election just after Australia Day.
Anthony Albanese(l) says it's possible Scott Morrison will call a election just after Australia Day.

Federal MPs are gearing up their election strategies as speculation mounts for when Prime Minister Scott Morrison will call next year's election.

While the government has indicated it would likely hold the election in May next year, Labor has insisted they are ready to go should an earlier date be scheduled.

It comes after the government released its parliamentary sitting program for 2022 on Monday.

The program revealed the federal budget, normally held in May, will be brought forward to March 29.

The prime minister used a similar tactic in 2019, bringing forward the budget before calling the election a week later.

Next year's federal election must be held by May 21.

Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday, former Nationals leader Michael McCormack said he expected Australians to go to the polls in May but the final call was up to the prime minister.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told a Labor party room meeting there was the possibility of the prime minister calling the election just after Australia Day.

Mr Albanese said there was a 50-50 chance parliament would not return next year before the election and this would be the final sitting week of the term.

Labor will hold its first campaign rally ahead of the election on Sunday.

"The government does not deserve a second decade in politics," Mr Albanese told the party room.

"If elected, we will be the most experienced incoming Labor government in history."

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said the election could not come soon enough.

"People get sick of game playing over timing, and we just need to get on start working through the consequences of COVID and how we come out of that, rather than this constant campaigning," Mr Shorten told the Nine Network.

"I think Labor's competitive, we're united."

Meanwhile, Greens leader Adam Bandt said there was a possibility where the minor party would hold the balance of power in both houses of parliament.

Mr Bandt said a hung parliament would be likely, outlining a list of nine seats the Greens would target, including electorates in Melbourne, Brisbane and Byron Bay.

Regardless of when the election is called, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the sector was more concerned about what issues would be debated.

"I don't think (businesses) are as interested in when it's going to be," she said.

"I think the election is about how do we sustain recovery."

Australian Associated Press