Morrison confirms May election
AUSTRALIANS will be headed to the polls in May.
The Prime Minister today announced the federal Budget would be handed down on April 2 ahead of the next election, essentially revealing the timing as the poll must be held by May 18.
He declared it would deliver a surplus for the first time in a decade.
The early timing of the Budget appears to be a strategy to win over voters at the last minute with an economic plan for another term.
Just moments after the Prime Minister's announcement, Victorian MP Julia Banks declared she was quitting the Liberal Party to sit as an independent on the crossbench in a move that will further imperil Mr Morrison's hold on the government.
Ms Banks hit out at the Liberal Party in a statement, saying the leadership spill to oust Malcolm Turnbull was the final straw.
"The gift of time and reflection has provided some clarity regarding the brutal blow against the leadership," Ms Banks said in a statement.
"Led by members of the reactionary right wing, the coup was aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, preselection endorsements or silence.
"Their actions were undeniably for themselves. For their position in the Party. Their power. Their personal ambition. Not the Australian people we represent."
Ms Banks declared she will give the government confidence and supply, which means Mr Morrison can continue to hold government, but could still potentially vote for a Labor bid to refer Peter Dutton to the High Court.
Ms Banks also highlighted the need for equal representation for men and women in Parliament - an issue the Liberal Party has refused to address with quotas.
"There is a blinkered rejection of quotas and support of the merit myth, that this is more than a numbers game. Across both major parties, the level of regard and respect for women in politics is years behind the business world," the former businesswoman said in her speech to Parliament.
In his press conference to reveal the budget timings, Mr Morrison highlighted the government's achievements, saying: "We've been getting things done."
"We can be trusted to run Australia's budget and trusted to oversee a growing economy. We've been investing in more services, record investments in hospitals, in schools, in disabilities, in affordable medicines, making life-changing decisions for Australians all around the country.
"All of that has been made possible by ensuring we focus on a stronger economy and we're doing it without increasing taxes."
Mr Morrison also addressed comments made by cabinet minister Kelly O'Dwyer yesterday in a crisis meeting following the state Liberals' horror result at the Victorian election, that Liberals were widely regarded as "homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers".
The Herald Sun reports Ms O'Dwyer told colleagues at the meeting that "it's not who we are as Liberals" but the "crusades" of some MPs had reinforced that view.
Mr Morrison said: "That's not our view and that's not Kelly's view of what the Liberal Party is about."
"It will be a budget which is the product of the years of hard work of our government," Mr Morrison added at his press conference in Canberra, leaving before being asked about Ms Banks' move.
More to come.