Wednesday, March 16, 2016

DD Redux

The Government has two broad options with the possible double dissolution, each with its own challenges:

  • Go early (ie. a DD-election on or before 1 July),
    • Pros: no need for a long election campaign, and if the DD is held early enough (say in April), the Government can leave the problem of getting a supply budget for 2016-17 until the last week of June and a new parliament.
    • Cons: the Senate term will be reckoned from 1 July 2015 and will result in a Senate with around two years before a half Senate election is needed (a full year before the next House of Representatives election is needed); or
  • Go late (ie. a DD-election on 2 July or thereafter), 
    • Pros: the Senate term will be reckoned from 1 July 2016, and will effectively align the next half Senate election with the next election for the House of Representatives.
    • Cons: because the last day for calling a DD is 11 May, it will be a long election period;  it will be impossible if the Government cannot secure a supply budget for 2016-17 through what looks like an increasingly hostile Senate; and if the Senate count goes beyond 11 August, ministers who are senators will need to resign their ministerial positions. 
Yesterday, the Senate has indicated that it will not be recalled a week early to consider a supply budget. And I suspect there is no guarantee that it would would pass supply bills on 10 May when it next sits. In which case, I doubt there can be a 2 July (or later) double dissolution. It would be reckless to ask for and for the Governor General to grant a double dissolution without a supply budget for 2016-17.

This then brings back on to the table the question of an early double dissolution in say late April. My suspicion is that an early DD (with all the pain of a shortened subsequent Senate term) can only be worthwhile if the government can bring on and have rejected (or at least have the Senate refuse to consider) its legislation for an Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). If this does not happen before Thursday this week, I suspect the early DD option is also off the table.

Without a double dissolution, the normal election timing would see a Federal election on a Saturday on or after 6 August, in the second half of 2016.


I previously wrote about double dissolution options for the current Parliament on:

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