Molesworth & Featherston predict the impossible

In their first newsletter of 2008, Molesworth and Featherston have made a fairly big blunder. They state on their first page:

The election this year will be on 29 November.

They don’t claim it is likely, possible or even probably – but as a dead cert.

Sadly for them it is impossible.

The current 48th Parliament commenced on 6 October 2005 when the writs were returned.

Under s17 of the Constitution Act 1986, the term of Parliament is set at 3 years, so this means that the 48th Parliament will expire and automatically dissolve on the 6th of October 2008 – if it hasn’t already done so voluntarily by then.

Then under s125 of the Electoral Act 1993, the Governor-General has a maximum of seven days to order the Chief Electoral Office to issue the election writs. This makes it 13 October 2008 at the latest.

Under s139, The election must then be held 20 – 27 days after nominations close, and on a Saturday. Also the final election writs (which includes time for counting special votes and any judicial recounts) must be returned no later than 50 days after they are issued which is 25 November 2008.

The 25th of November is a Tuesday and it is impossible to have the writs returned three days after polling day (it normally is at least two weeks and one needs a three day period alone for allowing recount applications under s180), so the last possible date is in fact Saturday 15 November 2008.

Even that date will only allow ten days for counting all the special votes and allowing for any recounts, which would be tight. So while 15 November is legally possible, I doubt it will be beyond 8 November.

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