Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called a double dissolution election on July 2.
“The Governor-General has accepted my advice to dissolve both houses of Parliament effective tomorrow,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra yesterday.
“At this election, Australians will have a very clear choice — to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor, with its high-taxing, higher spending, debt and deficit agenda, which will stop our nation’s transition to the new economy dead in its tracks.”
In his plan for economic growth, Turnbull outlined changes to the tax system, investment in innovation and science as well as getting young people into jobs. You can read our piece on what the upcoming election could mean for Australia’s future economic trajectory here.
“We are reforming our tax system to make it more sustainable and fit for purpose in the 21st century. We have established and are establishing the toughest anti-avoidance laws in the developed world. We believe in lower taxes. We do. But it is not optional to pay them,” he said.
“We have set up an Innovation and Science agenda which will ensure that right across our nation we are more innovative in business, in academia, in government, ensuring that we are able in these times of rapid change to meet them with the agility and the ingenuity and the imagination that makes for success.”
Turnbull leads the Liberal-National Coalition to the polls having deposed Tony Abbott last September in a partyroom coup. He argued in seizing power that business and consumers needed a renewed sense of confidence to maintain and grow the investment and spending levels required to support the economy as mining investment declined following the end of an historic mining boom.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten, meanwhile, leads the Labor party into this election having taken the reins from Kevin Rudd after his defeat in the 2013 election. Shorten has had to contend with questions about his behaviour while secretary of the Australian Workers Union, which came under scrutiny during a royal commission into union corruption set up by the Abbott government.
In an address to media following Turnbull’s announcement, Shorten said that the “election is much more than a choice between parties and personalities.”
“Mr Turnbull’s pretty quick to brush over the fact that he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to confirm that he’s going to spend $50 billion of budget money over the next 10 years, Australian’s taxpayer money, to give big business a tax break,” he said.
He also criticised Turnbull for his proposed tax reforms which would reward millionaires and “the top end of town”.
Polls have consistently shown the government and opposition tied 50—50 on a two party preferred basis over the past month. In the 2013 election, the Coalition carried 53.5% of the two-party vote, delivering a crushing victory and 90 seats out of the 150 in the House of Representatives.
Its legislative agenda, however, was stymied by the Senate, which featured an unprecedented crossbench composition including three Senators from the new Palmer United Party, a project which would later disintegrate and lead to two further independents on the crossbench.
Earlier yesterday, Turnbull visited governor general Peter Cosgrove at Government House requesting for parliament to be dissolved and a federal election for July 2.
The double dissolution will mean that all 150 House of Representatives seats and 76 Senate seats are vacated.
In a normal election, all House of Representatives seats but just half the Senate are up for grabs.
Turnbull and Shorten will now prepare for an eight-week campaign lasting until polling day.
“Mr Shorten will make big promises of higher spending. Remember, Labor has no credible or coherent way to pay for them. The choice cannot be clearer, we have an economic plan for growth and jobs,” Turnbull said.
Australians will head to the polls on July 2 for the first double dissolution election since 1987. Since Federation, there have only been six double dissolution elections.
Watch Turnbull’s speech here.
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