Australia’s longest-ever election campaign kicked off on Wednesday when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that elections will be held on September 14.

The timing of parliamentary elections is the choice of the Prime Minister, but there was widespread surprise that Ms. Gillard was naming a day more than eight months away.

“It should be clear to all which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning,” she said, saying the current Parliament would be dissolved on August 12.

“Announcing the election date now enables individuals and business, investors and consumers to plan their year,” she said.

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