Turnbull Confirms July 2 Election

19/04/2016 12:16 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Fairfax

The election date is locked for July 2, with PM Malcolm Turnbull announcing that he would make good on his promise to dissolve both houses of parliament over the ABCC bills.

After the Australian Building and Construction Commission bills were defeated on Monday night, less than one day into a special three-week session to consider the bills, it forced Turnbull to keep his promises to go to an election over the legislation.

"We brought the Senate back and they've made a decision, that's good, they've made a decision and so the ABCC will be a trigger for a double dissolution election," Turnbull told reporters during a press conference at a Canberra building site on Tuesday.

Turnbull would not confirm exactly when he would ask the Governor-General to dissolve the parliament and officially call an election, but said it would come after the federal budget on May 3. Turnbull has until May 11 to call the double dissolution, giving him an eight-day window to put the wheels properly in motion.

"My intention is after the Budget, an appropriate time after the Budget has been delivered, I will be asking the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of the parliament for an election which I expect to be held on 2 July," Turnbull said.

Labor has criticised the government for drawing out the process, but the PM claimed "we are governing, we have a lot of decisions to make," hinting that he would not simply be biding his time until the election is officially called.

"So we have all of that work ahead of us and we will be doing all of that and making a lot more decisions between now and when I expect both Houses to be dissolved," he said.

And even though the ABCC bills were defeated on Monday night, Turnbull said he had not given up hope of bringing back the building industry watchdog.

"What that means is that when we go to election the Australian people will decide whether there should be an Australian Building and Construction Commission," he said.

"You see a double dissolution election is about giving the people their say. It means it's an occasion when the House and the Senate can't agree, persistently and so then everyone goes to the polls and the Australian people have their say. And when we win the election as I believe we will, we will return and the reforms to registered organisations and the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission will be made law."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten was defiant after the announcement, saying Labor was ready to wage an election campaign.

"Labor is ready for this election. The choices couldn't be any clearer between Labor and Liberal. Labor has positive policies that put people first... Labor is ready for the election because we know what we stand for," he said.

"Decent jobs, well funded education, quality health care, protecting Medicare, renewable energy, encouraged to take up the burden of climate change, and a fair taxation system."

Shorten cast doubt on the government's ability to lead the country.

"Seven months ago, I believed that my job would be harder when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott but I thought we'd be in for a better standard of politics. Instead in the last seven months plus, we've seen a PM slowly shrink into his job. The Labor Party by contrast has prepared for this election to tick the boxes of being a strong alternative Government," he said.

Turnbull was handed the double dissolution trigger on Monday with the Senate's rejection of legislation to resurrect the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC), a Howard government-era construction industry watchdog.

The government needed the support of six crossbench senators to pass the legislation, but only four -- Bob Day, Nick Xenophon, Dio Wang and David Leyonhjelm -- voted in favour. The government lost the vote 36-34.

Turnbull has repeatedly said he would ask the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of parliament and call a July 2 election if the ABCC bills fail to pass in this new session of parliament.

On Monday night Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the federal government will focus on the budget before Turnbull addresses the double dissolution trigger.

"We have a budget to deliver first, that's our priority. We have until the 10th or 11th of May to decide to have a double dissolution election," Bishop said on The Project.

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