A lengthy election campaign is laden with pitfalls and is a risky political environment for a Prime Minister to enter.
From the inconvenience brought about by a non-functioning government to the cost on the public purse, it is a far from ideal situation with the potential to backfire, a Griffith University researcher says.
For a recent example, the Deputy Director of Griffith’s Policy Innovation Hub points Malcolm Turnbull in the direction of Canada where eleven weeks on the hustings contributed to the downfall of Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year.
“An incumbent government brings many advantages to electioneering but these diminish over a lengthier campaign,” Jenny Menzies writes in The Machinery of Government.
“The business of government stops and opportunities are missed because of the lack of a full government.
“Parliament is dissolved and Parliamentary accountability processes are stalled for an inordinate time.
“As a nation we are used to having regular access to Parliament and many of the implications of such a lengthy hiatus will not become apparent until after the election.”
Jenny Menzies, who has more than 20 years of experience in policy and public administration at state and Commonwealth levels, highlights the financial burdens that a sustained campaign brings for political parties and the media covering their pledges and commitment.
“But the greatest cost is to the public purse which funds the expenses and travel for the majority of the campaign.”
She also argues that Malcolm Turnbull left himself open to a greater chance of bad news with a two-month campaign.
“This is a particular vulnerability for the government with the release of regular economic indicators being put under the election microscope,” she says.
“For example, an increase in the unemployment rate, interest rate changes or poor balance of payments, can emerge as a potent symbol of government which then needs to expend precious campaign resources on defending its record.”
- FIND OUT MORE: The Machinery of Government