Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull hints at September election

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given his strongest indication yet that an election will be held within six months.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given his strongest indication yet that an election will be held within six months.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given his strongest indication yet that an election will be held within six months after he told colleagues to prepare for a September election on Tuesday (Feb 2), Xinhua news agency reported.

Behind closed doors, the Prime Minister told his Liberal party members to expect to begin campaigning for an August poll, meaning an election could be held as early as September. When Parliament disbanded over the New Year, the Prime Minister was hesitant to discuss the timing of an election but, when Parliament resumed in Canberra on Feb 2, Mr Turnbull moved quickly to prepare his Cabinet for a trip to the polls, according to Xinhua.

Fairfax Media reported that the Premier also told colleagues the option of a double dissolution was still on the table should key Bills be deadlocked between the House of Representatives and the Senate. A double dissolution would require the entire Senate to face the voters, not just members in the House of Representatives. The government has previously been unable to push key legislation through the Senate, including a Bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction and Commission (ABCC).

The government was set to reintroduce the ABCC Bill into Parliament on Tuesday - the third time in as many years the coalition has attempted to pass the legislation.

If it does not pass, Mr Turnbull said it would be a trigger cause for an automatic double dissolution when the election comes around.

The news follows earlier comments from Mr Turnbull made on Friday, when he told 3AW radio that "there is a budget in May... and there will be an election, you know, all other things being equal, in August, September, October".

If an election is called before July, a double dissolution must be held, whereas if the election is held later - such as in September - the government can enact a double dissolution if it decides to, Xinhua reported.