Julia Gillard announces election date ... 9 months early

AUSTRALIANS will be subjected to the longest election campaign in the nation's history after Prime Minister Julia Gillard took the extraordinary step of revealing that voters will head to the polls on September 14.

Ms Gillard dropped the bombshell at the end of her address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, arguing it would bring "transparency" and "good governance" to the chaos of an election year.

In doing so she surrendered what is considered to be one of the greatest tactical advantages of incumbency - the element of surprise.

The Prime Minister revealed will make the traditional trip to visit the Governor-General on August 12 to have writs issued for an election.

Ms Gillard said she was motivated by a desire to give "shape and order to the year".

"I have always said the Parliament would serve full-term," Ms Gillard said.

"I reflected on this over the summer and thought that it's not right for Australians to be forced into a guessing game and it's not right for Australians to not face this year with certainty and stability."

Ms Gillard said it was not her intention to kickstart the "nation's longest election campaign".

She hoped revealing the date would allow people and businesses to plan their year and have the effect of defining "which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning".

Noble though this might be the reality is bound to be different as voters face 226 days of campaigning.

Prior to Wednesday the most notice a prime minister had given of an election was three months - twice by Robert Menzies in 1958 and 1961.

Ms Gillard told the National Press Club she had consulted Treasurer Wayne Swan and a "few senior colleagues" prior to Wednesday's announcement.

But she also confirmed she had informed key independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor of the decision by phone on Tuesday night.

On Sky News Workplace Minister Bill Shorten said he had not been consulted.

The Labor backbenchers contacted by APN Newsdesk said they too had been taken by surprise.

Greens Leader Christine Milne told reporters her office was informed of the decision about 30 minutes before the speech.

In fact the independents were so prepared they had media releases ready to go straight after Ms Gillard's shock announcement.

Both men, who will face a struggle to retain their seats, welcomed the decision.

Part of their agreement with Ms Gillard was for the Parliament to run full-term, which will now be achieved.

Mr Oakeshott, who will announce in March whether he intends to recontest Lyne, said revealing the election date would "protect the economy from an election year".

The decision also drew praise from Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie and Senator Milne.

Earlier Ms Gillard used her speech to flag the government's priorities for the year, including the cutting of "wasteful programs", the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and education reforms.

She said she will use the Council of Australian Governments meeting in April to push for the Gonski reforms to be delivered.

"Across all our schools, over more than a decade, we have been slipping behind the education standards of the region and the world," she said.

"Changing that is the crusade which defines this term of my prime ministership."

Wondering how long exactly until the election is over? Someone has already created a countdown timer - see it here.

Do you think Julia Gillard made the right move in revealing the election date?

This poll ended on 30 March 2013.

Yes - 79%

No - 20%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  editors picks federal election julia gillard

'It would be shameful if city fell to Hanson's deplorables'

Pauline Hanson

What do you think about this? Here's what you said on Facebook

Top 10 most popular baby names for Ipswich

Did your name make the list?

Neumann vows to back JBS workers

The ongoing dispute between JBS Dinmore and workers continues.

Federal MP to meet with company's management

Local Partners

Workmates honour crash victim with tribute

UPDATE: Tanya Lyell is being remembered as a young mother dedicated to her family and work as the town she called home mourns its loss.

Five things to do this weekend

GOOD TIMES: Head to the Ipswich Vintage and Veteran Vehicle Club swap meet on Sunday.

What's on in Ipswich

Ripley celebrates puppy pride

Me and My Pet: Lewis, 12 and Charli Adams, 9 show off their best friend, Reggie, the 3 year old Kelpie Cross.

The day will feature a host of entertainment for pets

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

See Paisley Road live.

Check out some live and local music

CCTV footage surfaces of Kim Kardashian West's robbers

The blurry footage shows three men on bikes and two on foot

Cathriona White's mother claims to have Jim Carrey's results

Jim Carrey and late ex-girlfriend Cathriona White

SHE claims Carrey exposed White to herpes, chlamydia, Hepatitis A

The Koi Boys are back with more covers and original songs

Former Voice contestants The Koi Boys have signed with Universal Music.

THE Voice favourites release their debut album today.

RECAP: The Bachelorette S2E10 - hometown visits

Georgia Love in a scene from season two episode 10 of The Bachelorette.

Georgia meets the families of her four beaus tonight.

The Bachelorette: Courtney too slow for Georgia's love train

Courtney Dober in a scene from The Bachelorette.

FORMER favourite eliminated after introducing Georgia to his family.

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

See Paisley Road live.

Check out some live and local music

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

OPINION: Dusit Thani Resort needs our full support

An artist impression of the Dusit Thani Brookwater Golf and Spa Resort.

Resort will bring great benefits to Ipswich

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge