July 2 confirmed for Australia’s first double dissolution election in 3 decades

Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has called an early election for July 2, staking his political future on a pledge to lower taxes, cut spending and maintain a hard-line approach to migrants.

Turnbull announced both houses of parliament will be dissolved and every politician, including senators, will need to run for re-election.

“The governor-general has accepted my advice to dissolve both houses of parliament effective tomorrow morning, and call an election for both houses, a double dissolution, on 2 July,” Turnbull said during a news conference Sunday.

“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.

Australia will now enter one of the longest election campaigns in the nation’s history, pitting the ruling Coalition, which has emphasised economic growth, against  the Labor opposition, which has emphasised fairness.

Presenting a bright picture of Australia’s future, Mr Turnbull, a self-made millionaire and former investment banker, promised to cut business taxes and promote Australia’s high-tech sector.  “The opportunities for Australia have never been greater,” he said.

“There are many challenges. But if we embrace this future with confidence and with optimism, with self-belief and a clear plan, then we will succeed as we have never succeeded before.”

Mr Turnbull, 61, is hoping to end an era of political chaos in Australia,which has had five different prime ministers in less than a decade.

A former leader of the republican movement, he has been in the public eye for decades but has never contested a federal election. He has been prime minister for just eight months after deposing Tony Abbott, a staunch conservative who won the 2013 election in a landslide but was personally unpopular.

 

What is a ‘double dissolution’ election?

A double dissolution election is significant because it is the only occasion on which all senators face election at the same time. It is called to end a deadlock between the lower and upper houses of parliament — the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Australian governments generally control numbers in the lower house, but due to Australia’s proportional voting system they often do not have the same sway in the Senate. If legislation passed by the lower house becomes stalled, or is rejected, twice in the Senate, resolving the conflict can be achieved by a double dissolution of parliament, where all seats in both houses are then contested.

This election is only the seventh time a double dissolution has been called and has been criticised as opportunistic by the government looking to boost its numbers in the upper house.