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Malcolm Turnbull recalls parliament, threatens double dissolution

Photo: Getty Images.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has recalled parliament for April 18 and prepared the way for an early election with a double dissolution.

He will call a election for July 2, with all members of both houses of parliament standing for election, if legislation to create the building industry watchdog, the Australia Building and Construction Commission, isn’t passed by the Senate.

“The time has come for the Senate to recognise its responsibilities and help advance our economic plans, rather than standing in the way,” Turnbull told a media briefing at Parliament House today.

“The restoration of the ABCC is a critical economic reform. The time for playing games is over.

“What we are doing is giving the Senate ample time to consider the ABCC bills, and pass them.”

Turnbull said he had received permission from governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove to recall both houses of parliament. The Senate will sit for three weeks before the federal budget, now set for May 3, so that there is sufficient debate to pass the workplace relations bills.

He said if the bills are passed a double dissolution will not be held.

“The go-slows and obstruction by Labor and the Greens on this key legislation must end,” Turnbull said. “This is an opportunity for the Senate to do its job of legislating rather than filibustering.”

The government also has brought the federal budget forward a week to enable a double dissolution. The budget will now be on May 3.

The last time a double dissolution election was called was in 1987. A double dissolution means a full election for both houses of parliament, including all senators. If after the legislation which triggered the double dissolution is still not passed, then a joint sitting of both houses of parliament can be called to vote on the legislation.

After a marathon 28 hours of debate last week, parliament went into recess after making changes to Senate voting rules.

The reforms make it harder for minor parties to win seats through complicated preference deals.

These new rules will be in force at the next federal election.

Turnbull’s approval rating as prime minister has fallen into negative territory for the first time but voters still expect him to win this the election, according to the latest Newspoll.

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