By ASHLEIGH PISANI
Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will bring the budget forward a week, setting the wheels in motion for an early double dissolution election on July 2.
At a double dissolution election, all senators are up for re-election instead of only half like usual because a Senate term is for six years not three like in the House of Representatives.
The Prime Minister announced in a press conference this afternoon that he had advised the Governor General Peter Cosgrove to recall both houses of Parliament on April 18, interrupting the usual break before the budget, and enabling them to sit for an additional three weeks.
In this time the Government will re-introduce it’s trigger for a double dissolution election, the highly contested bill restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a watchdog designed to limit union power in the construction industry.
If the Government’s bill is not passed, Turnbull said he would call a double dissolution election. This would be the first double dissolution election since 1987.
“The time for playing games is over,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Today, I called upon His Excellency the Governor-General to advise him to recall both Houses of Parliament on April 18, to consider and pass the Australian Building and Construction Commission Bills and the Registered Organisations Bill, and he has made a proclamation to that effect.
“I make no apology for interrupting senators’ seven-week break to bring them back to deal with this legislation.
“This is an opportunity for the Senate to do its job of legislating rather than filibustering.
“The go-slows and obstruction by Labor and the Greens on this key legislation must end.
“The time has come for the Senate to recognise its responsibilities and help advance our economic plans instead of standing in the way.”
By putting an extra three sitting weeks before the budget, Turnbull is hoping to avoid the perception that he is rushing to an early election.
The budget is now scheduled for May 3, instead of May 10 in order for the Government to be able to pass their budget supply bills which Labor have already said they will support.
The Senate, which has blocked much of the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s legislation, is the focus.
A double dissolution would allow the Government to take advantage of the new Senate voting laws that passed last week and which make it far more difficult for independents and minor parties to be elected such as the current crossbench.
Although Turnbull said he will not call a double dissolution if the ABCC bill is passed despite having other triggers.
If the Senate refuses to pass the bill, which they are likely to do, Labor and the Greens are both opposed to the legislation and Labor has released its own alternative proposal for union reform, then we will head into an unusually long eight week election campaign.
According to the Prime Minister, the Coalition would campaign on its plan to improve union governance, its innovation agenda, competition policy and forthcoming policies to boost jobs and economic growth. They have also signalled a fight on Labor’s plan to limit negative gearing would feature heavily during the election campaign.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters last week that Labor was ready to fight an early election.
He said Labor’s campaign would revolve around five issues.
“A fair taxation system, standing up for Australian jobs, a properly funded Medicare system — where it’s your Medicare card, not your credit card, that determines the level of your health care,” he said.
“We’ll fight it around schools, TAFE and universities, where working class and middle-class kids, every child, gets every opportunity in every school and we’ll fight it on making sure we’ve got fair dinkum policies on renewable energy.”