Australia's prime minister has left open the possibility of a national election as early as July.

Malcolm Turnbull has until May 11 to announce a rare early election on July 2, July 9 or July 16.

Turnbull signaled Tuesday that his government could bring forward that annual budget in May. That would make meeting that election deadline easier.

An early budget would leave little doubt that Australia was headed for its first early election — called a double dissolution election because both the House of Representatives and the Senate are dissolved — since 1987.

Turnbull told government colleagues last month that he planned to hold an election around the usual time in September, but said an early election was "a live option."