Of course the vote counting begins, with results rolling in and reported after 7 pm Saturday.
If it is clear who the Government will be on election night, the formation of the Government and the appointment of Ministers may occur within a few days.
More likely, would-be coalition partners will begin Sunday to schedule their tete a tete’s.
Official results are declared on 3 November.
But given the expected ‘intensity’ of coalition negotiations, the key trigger date to watch is 9 November: the last day for the ‘return of the writ’.
After declaring the result, and when satisfied that no application is to be made for a judicial recount, or after any recount has taken place, the Electoral Commissioner delivers the writ to the Clerk of the House. Effectively this is a certificate of election, proving the right of membership to the House of Representatives.
Following the return of the writ, the Governor-General issues a proclamation summoning Parliament to meet within six weeks. Within those six weeks, the first meeting of the new Parliament must take place.
[Note: a by-election that must take place in Port Waikato due to death of one of the candidates in that electorate could throw a spanner in this calendar if the national results produce a 60-60 split in Parliament. The result of this by-election would become rather important!]
Meantime, the current Government serves as caretaker, capable of responding at full scale to a major earthquake or invasion by Australia, but unable to enact policy.
As that six week deadline approaches (18 December), with no claim to govern yet at her door, Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro can appoint a mediator to assist.
But there’s no way to force closure, so at that point it gets sordid.
Failure to cobble together a majority is probably a curse none of the involved parties would survive! It would mean a new election early next year, at a cost of some $150 million, and a very grumpy and disillusioned voting public.
Various ‘experts’ have advised Baybuzz on this sequence of events, but none will take public credit.