Federal Politics

Election 2016: And the countdown begins

The political year proper begins this week with speculation about the election date already off and running.

The political year begins in earnest on Tuesday when Parliament resumes but already speculation about the election date has begun.

Opposition finance spokesman Tony Burke set the clock running when he said there were "only 37 question times before an election".

The space in between parliamentary sitting periods would be "punctuated" by tensions within the Coalition, Mr Burke told Sky News on Sunday.

"When you topple a sitting prime minister you unleash a Shakespearean tragedy. That turmoil is nowhere near finished," Mr Burke said.

"You don't get very far into the alphabet before you get chaos."

A federal election is due in the second half of this year.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday that the election was likely to be held some time between August and October.

This would allow Mr Turnbull to deliver his first budget in May as well as a tax package.

Mr Turnbull warned economic circumstances meant the government would not be fighting a "fistful of dollars" election campaign.

Labor, meanwhile, is trying the set the goal posts for its campaign themes as early as possible.

It is keen to campaign on an increase to the GST, which Mr Burke warned would not be offset by income tax cuts.

Any increase in the GST would "hit ordinary household budgets", Mr Burke said, but tax cuts would be eroded over time by inflation.

Labor kicked off its political year last week when it announced its education policy and Mr Burke said it would also have significant announcements to make on health.

Mr Burke hit back at suggestions from South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill that Labor's education policy was not affordable.

Mr Burke said the premier's comments were "drowning in ignorance".

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