Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to curb labor unions’ power, in a defeat set to trigger new elections just seven months after he took office. Mr. Turnbull had promised to invoke an election if lawmakers didn’t pass the bill, and he is now expected to formalize the threat after unveiling the national budget next month. Uncertainty over the election outcome and a potential shift in economic policy has already unsettled some of Australia’s biggest companies. Monday’s developments set in motion a risky path to an unusual election known as a double dissolution, which puts all seats in both legislative chambers to a vote. In a normal election, the lower house and just half the senate are chosen. The last such election—also aimed as resolving legislative deadlocks—was in 1987. “They’ve loaded the gun,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce after the Senate vote. “We’ve always been pretty straight and we’ve always said we’d go to a double dissolution if it didn’t pass. It hasn’t passed.”
Underscoring the risks, two polls Monday put the center-left Labor opposition party close to or ahead of the conservatives. Mr. Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott as prime minister in September in a move aimed at averting the likelihood of electoral defeat. Mr. Turnbull, a wealthy former banker and entrepreneur, promised a fresh political approach after ousting Mr. Abbott, whose fumbles and conservative views on issues like same-sex marriage upset many voters.
Instead, Mr. Turnbull has been frequently accused by opponents and allies alike of being unwilling to make difficult decisions on challenges facing the country, such as rising debt, inflexible labor laws and high costs that hurt manufacturing.
Any election will be fought over who is better placed to manage Australia’s 1.6 trillion Australian dollar (US$1.23 trillion) economy through a difficult transition from the highs of a mining boom to a more diverse system, less reliant on resources and better able to compete against lower-cost competitors.
Full Article: Australia Moves Toward a New Election – WSJ.