Senior Ministers are considering a drastic step to break its deadlock with the Senate. Although it could spell doom for the Prime Minister…
The Federal Government’s battles with the Senate has seen the prospect of a double dissolution election discussed among senior ministers.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister has told the ABC “the Government intends to run its full term”, but the idea has been brought up at two separate meetings this week – at a leadership group meeting on Monday morning and at a Cabinet dinner that night.
Some ministers present said the idea was quickly dismissed, while others refused to comment or denied the conversation took place.
One senior minister said of Mr Abbott: “He would lead us all to a narcissistic annihilation.”
The Coalition has been frustrated with its inability to get some key policies through the Senate, such as the Medicare co-payment and deregulation of higher education.
Related content: Senate votes down university fee reforms. Again.
But a double dissolution election is an unlikely solution to the Government’s problems.
ABC’s election analyst Antony Green said the Coalition would struggle to remain in office if an election were called now.
“People don’t call double dissolutions when they’re behind in the polls,” he said.
“A double dissolution is an option you have, it’s not an option you invoke if you’re behind, if you think you’re going to lose.
“So I think some people would view it as being a false threat.”
Mr Green also warned the Coalition a double dissolution election risks seeing more minor party and independent candidates elected to the Senate.
Related content: “It’s time to move on for Tony Abbott, the onion king.”
“Holding a double dissolution under current electoral laws where you halve the quota would probably double the size of the crossbench,” he said.
“So, I don’t think it solves any of the Government’s problems, it would just weaken them in the Senate.”
A Government can only ask the Governor-General for a double dissolution if legislation is rejected by the Senate twice, with at least three months between the two votes.
The Coalition has a trigger, with the Senate having twice rejected a bill to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
But it is not an issue on the same scale as the policy battles that have triggered previous double dissolutions.
There have only been six double dissolution elections since Federation, the last one in 1987.
This article was originally published by the ABC and was republished here with full permission.