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Federal Government

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Australia could have two elections within six months

TonyTony Abbott and the Coalition leadership team plan to take Australia to two elections in the space of six or twelve months, should Labor and their Greens party frenemies block the repeal of the carbon tax, as appears certain.

Some say it will be at the earliest possible opportunity and while there’s some debate about the timing, the second election could be held within six months if there’s a change of government.

The Coalition’s plan to scrap the carbon tax has always seemed likely to run into Senate obstruction, a fact acknowledged by Climate minister Greg Combet yesterday.

Some Liberals seem to have thought that Labor would relent on the issue after being chain-saw massacred at the next election which they see as a “referendum on the carbon tax.” They have thought that Labor could be expected to give ground on the issue in the way the Coalition did on WorkChoices.

Some 60% of respondents to a Galaxy poll say that Abbott would have a mandate to scrap the tax if elected, so they have a point.

But a change of heart has always seemed rather unlikely to us and is now confirmed by Combet who will almost certainly be part of the next generation of Labor leadership after the next federal poll.

Coalition insiders told VEXNEWS they thought that a double dissolution and resulting joint sitting was the only way to repeal the law and that Abbott had “no choice” because he’d “nailed his colours to the mast” on the issue.

They acknowledge the potentially very expensive political cost and risk in doing so. Australians don’t like early elections, even in these circumstances, it would be risky.

There could well be many Members of the House of Representatives elected in a 2013 poll if a big swing to the Coalition is on (as appears likely) and then an election after that where a good number of them could lose. The idea will be received by the party room with great nervousness, should the occasion arise.

Liberal frontbencher Greg Hunt, who once supported a carbon tax and even wrote a thesis on carbon pricing before any had heard of it, has foreshadowed a double dissolution on the issue before but it has been widely assumed this would be after a couple of years of enjoying what is hoped by the Coalition to be a robust House of Reps majority.

But the crazy-brave Liberal Leader has a far more aggressive plan than that, which could see an election timetable where the PM limps to the line in second-half of 2013 and another poll in early 2014.

Given that government’s popularity tends to peak at the beginning and then gradually (or rapidly) dissipate it is an incredibly bold move that is already causing rumblings in the Coalition and potentially opens Abbott up to criticism about stability of government.

As with many big risks, there’s potentially big reward with a double dissolution potentially offering a chance to slash the Greens representation and potentially achieving a Coalition majority in the Senate. But it could also cost some newly elected Lib lower house MPs their seats, which won’t go over well.

While Abbott is the ultimate establishment political figure, student-politician, life-long staffer, campaigner, Rhodes Scholar, briefly a political scribe, he’s definitely got a streak of the outsider-rebel about him that John Howard never had and that no political leader beyond Latham has had in recent times. We’re in for a wild ride, especially Abbott’s own MPs.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Since we’re in a speculation mood I will add my two cents:

    Perhaps a landslide to the coalition will introduce enough Turnbull supporters to get rid of Abbott quick-smart.

    Posted by Purun Bhagat | October 18, 2011, 10:42
  2. This post is ignorant of the constitutional limitations on when elections can be held.

    Posted by frog | October 18, 2011, 11:03
  3. I’ll see your 2 elections and raise it to 3 if it means getting rid of Bobby and his fun bunch.

    Posted by cohenite | October 18, 2011, 11:07
  4. There’s the assumption here that Abbott’s going to win the next election with a landslide. Isn’t there an old saying about chickens and hatching?

    Posted by Charltonite46 | October 18, 2011, 11:39
  5. But who will be blamed for the second go round in the poll booths ? If the Libs are smart they will be saying loudly that this is all down to Labor’s pig headedness about the hated carbon tax. Kick ’em again !

    Posted by heinrich | October 18, 2011, 12:22
  6. The problem here is that Abbott’s plan could very well come under scrutiny should he repeal the carbon tax. I mean say what you want about the carbon price, at least it is a market based mechanism, Abbott’s plan is picking winners. However I would just say, it would be risky. Labor would be able to get rid of Gillard and Swan, and they will bring in a new leader. Possibly Stephen Smith should he be able to regain his seat. Abbott’s problem is he is no Turnbull or Hockey or Howard for that matter. People don’t really like him. They are forced to like him because of the Rudd/Gillard decisions. It would be risky to go to an election, they probably won’t gain a majority in the Senate, and they could lose some of the seats which they just won.

    Posted by Liam | October 18, 2011, 12:37
  7. and with that second election, australia will be doomed to become a no-hope backwater while the rest of the world moves into the 21st century. it’s a real shame to see just how small-brained the political elite in this country can be.

    Posted by Beige Pants Power! | October 18, 2011, 13:11
  8. So moving into the 21st century involves “doing something” that actually does nothing to address the root issue?

    Given that the rest of the world for the most part is doing nothing, how are they meeting your requirements for not being a no-hope backwater where we aren’t?

    It’s a real shame to see just how small-brained the 29% holding out behind Labor can be.

    Posted by Mick | October 18, 2011, 13:16
  9. I’ll see your no-hope backwater and raise 2 green utopias and general psychosis in the commentariat.

    Posted by cohenite | October 18, 2011, 13:43
  10. I truely hope this is what happens. Labor must stick to their values, have courage and refuse to let the idiots turn back Australia. Abbot will have to actually have an alternate policy that is able to be implemnted and arguabley more successful than Labors. Fat chance of that!

    Posted by Rivoboy | October 18, 2011, 15:20
  11. “Labor must stick to their values”


    Posted by cohenite | October 18, 2011, 17:27
  12. Great values labor has. The Europeans derive carbon credits by building nuclear power stations. they will sell these certificates to the hapless Australians. No party in this country supports nuclear power but our cash will help pay for the French to build them. the greens are stupid.

    Posted by Nico | October 18, 2011, 17:52
  13. Tony Abbott’s arrogance and lust for power spell trouble for this country if the majority can’t see through him.

    He hides his policies, he lies continuously and admits to doing so yet tries to launch a ‘peoples revolution’ based on Gillard’s supposed lie, he seems to be willing to say and do anything to get hold of the highest political office in the land.

    The whole denial of pairing issue is characteristic of the man – willing to disrupt the basis of our democracy just to further his own ambition. As is his down talking the economy and promoting instability over the carbon tax – Australia’s interests come well behind his own.

    And this latest ploy of a double dissolution to get his own way? John Howard was able to work with the other political parties and against a hostile senate as have numerous governments before them. Yet Abbott needs unrestrained power?

    Is this really the man we want leading this country? I’m not all that happy with Labor – they’ve been mediocre at best and have failed to stand up on important issues out of fear – but Tony Abbott represents a real danger to this nation with his unrestrained desire for power at any cost.

    Posted by Bazza | October 18, 2011, 18:33
  14. Two opportunities in six months to smash the leftist ALP and the Greens……. awesome!

    Posted by Anon | October 18, 2011, 19:26
  15. I am a respected political strategist.

    Two elections in 6 months will allow me to demonstrate my supreme strategic nous by not preselecting candidates twice in one year. Then everyone will see just how respected I am.

    Posted by Shambles | October 18, 2011, 21:07
  16. “But the crazy-brave Liberal Leader has a far more aggressive plan than that, which could see an election timetable where the PM limps to the line in second-half of 2013 and another poll in early 2014.”

    Antony Green argues that this isn’t possible. The result of an election held in the second half of 2013 would take effect in the Senate in mid-2014. S 13 of the Constitution says “the term of service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the first day of July” – “shall” as in “has to happen”, without being circumvented by a double dissolution caused by a deadlock in the old Senate. It seems to me that the founding fathers knew what they were doing when they worded it this way: the mechanism exists to break deadlocks, and you can’t say there’s a deadlock if the Senate is going to be replaced in a few months.

    If Antony Green is right, Abbott won’t be able to get to work on a double dissolution trigger until mid-2014. Given the timetables involved in setting up a trigger and conducting an election campaign, that might make it impossible for a DD to be held before 2015. The only way it could be done sooner is if Abbott seized power by the middle of next year, in which case he could bring a DD upon the current Senate.

    VEXNEWS: Hi William, there is no simply explicit constitutional prohibition on a double dissolution prior to the newly elected (2013) Senators starting their term the following July 1. It’s not there. The key part of Antony’s analysis that relates to this is ‘While it is not explicit in the Constitution, I believe it is implicit in the fixed terms of the Senate that a double dissolution trigger can only apply to legislation first blocked by a Senate in place after 1 July 2014.’

    What’s the authority for his proposition? There isn’t any, as far as I’m aware. His argument – as you say – is because the word ‘shall’ is used that the Senators term must start before a DD can be held. I’m sorry but I regard that as a pretty radical interpretation of what is essentially outlining a start date for elected Senators. It’s reading quite a lot into the written text of the constitution that simply isn’t there. Of course, the High Court can do that but I doubt they would in this case, I doubt there’d even be a constitutional challenge on the calling of the poll. I respect both Antony and your expertise on electoral matters but I can’t agree on this. We bush lawyers be a menace to the nation.

    He’s right that if the 2013 result is as emphatic as it now seems it will be, the Coalition might have a majority in both houses, but that seems unlikely so I think the scenario the Libs are talking about – as chronicled above – seems quite likely. The political will to do it is what surprised (amazed) me. Many in the Coalition appear to have convinced themselves that the carbon tax is the greatest issue of our time and that anything less than a fully-fledged effort to scrap it is not morally or politically acceptable. Is this truth-in-political-promising or swallowing-the-koolaid, I’m not really sure.

    Posted by William Bowe | October 18, 2011, 22:09
  17. How I miss Moca………

    Posted by Gobbler | October 18, 2011, 22:13
  18. Brother Abbott do not forget the joy you get and those elections you have from inducting those little rascals into St Chesters Choir.

    Posted by Cardinal Pell | October 18, 2011, 22:26
  19. Hey Penbo, stop calling me “tactically dim”.

    I’m not tactically dim – bringing back Work Choices is tactical genius! That’s why I’m always leaking about it.

    You know what your problem is Penbo? You’re useless. Useless!

    Just like all the others. Useless.

    Useless. Every single one of youse – Useless!

    Posted by JB | October 18, 2011, 23:10
  20. There are other scenarios, let’s assume the tax is really bad. If so a Coalition landslide that grabs the Senate
    or comes close enough so Abbott only has to rely on the DLP is a real possibility. The other option, the one I think Abbott is more likely to go for, is a referendum because he can overturn the CPRS and amend the constitution to ensure that no compensation is paid for carbon credits. The property right argument is pretty spurious anyway as it is a license to pollute and other licenses, like fishing licenses, are not considered property.

    Posted by John Comnenus | October 19, 2011, 0:00
  21. Are the current HCA appointments appointed/nobbled by Labor or Liberal? It may make any constitutional arguments a moot point.

    Posted by The Truth | October 19, 2011, 8:30
  22. If turncoat comes back you can kiss my vote goodbye. I’ll be casting a donkey before I vote for that douche.

    Posted by anonadouche | October 19, 2011, 9:08
  23. “Labor must stick to their values”

    Labor under Bob Hawke – For the Worker

    Labor under Julia Gillard – F- the Worker

    Posted by Mick | October 19, 2011, 11:48
  24. I actually quite enjoy the atmosphere generated in election booths. Having 2 in a year sounds spifing, despite the huge cost to taxpayers and cash economy workers.

    Posted by Infantry Magjor Bob Bufton - Tufton Brown III | October 19, 2011, 13:37
  25. Except any DD called before 1 July 2014 would terminate the terms of 108 Senators, not just the 72 responsible for the requirements of Section 57 being met. But on what basis can those extra 36 Senators have their terms terminated if they were not permitted to vote on the legislation that created the trigger? All 36 Senators would have standing before the High Court to rule on the validity of a writ for a double dissolution being issued in these circumstances. That’s not just my opinion, ask a constutional lawyer.

    VEXNEWS: In our bush lawyerly opinion, they be not Senators until they are sworn in, n’est-ce pas? But the suggestion about the constitutional lawyer is a good one. Shame Colin Howard QC is no longer with us…

    Posted by Antony Green | October 19, 2011, 15:29
  26. What I find most reprehensible about Gillard and Co, and the Green voters as well, is their defence of the proposition that, having misled the Australian people prior to the last election, they will now do everything they can, in terms of this legislation to price carbon, to ensure that, should the Australian people reject this policy, the will of the people will not be able to be implemented.
    In other words, they are telling the Australian people to “get nicked” because we, the political ‘Insiders’ are determined to ensure that, regardles of what view you express at the ballot box, the government you elect will find it too difficult to implement the mandate you have given them to rescind the carbon tax.
    The arrogance is breath taking!

    Posted by Mitchell Observer | October 19, 2011, 15:29
  27. “The arrogance is breath taking!”

    Holding your breath could constitute tax avoidance under the Clean Energy carbon TAX legislation.

    Posted by cohenite | October 19, 2011, 17:53
  28. Abbott is yesterdays man.

    I knew it was over for our boy when Grattan wrote in today’s Age

    “Tony Abbott’s blood oath to repeal the carbon tax is threatening to cause the opposition some haemorrhaging.”

    When the wolf mother of the press pack gets the taste for blood you best get out of her way.
    Abbott should resign now while he’s still ahead of the pack.

    Posted by Andy's Witchdoctor | October 19, 2011, 18:51
  29. A 48% primary vote for the Federal Liberal Party led by Tony Abbott versus a 30% primary vote for Labor led by Gillard – and Abbot is yesterday’s man? Abbott will prove to be a Man for All Seasons and will make an outstanding Prime Minister of Australia. Once the rot sets in for the Labor and the Greens, it will be impossible to arrest.Labor will be a rump in the Federal Parliament and the Greens will begin to wither as did the Democrats. The consequential is that State Labor will also be wiped out around Australia. Grattan is good but not a political Nostradamus!

    Posted by Anon | October 19, 2011, 20:53
  30. Hey you can always go to malaysia as one of the 800, if you don’t like it here.

    Posted by No Beige Pants power | October 19, 2011, 22:16
  31. On August 10th last year, The Australian reported:

    “In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.

    ‘I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,’ she said of the next parliament. ‘I rule out a carbon tax.’ ”

    Thus, Gillard did not lie. She didn’t even break a promise – in fact she fulfilled it. It is Abbott who has lied by passing off the carbon pricing mechanism as a tax. Abbott knows full well the difference between a carbon price and a carbon tax, as he shows in the following interview –


    Posted by silkworm | October 19, 2011, 22:30
  32. It would be entirly worth it to be rid Gillard and the Green’s. Bring it on. Sooner the better. On a side not this now appears to be one of the few places where you can speak about Gillard and the Greens without being censored. Opp’s is that a knock at the door ??? Then again perhpas Conroys internet filter is not fully up to speed yet.

    Posted by Michael | October 20, 2011, 7:48
  33. Oh my – it appears too many people have taken too much Koolaid.

    The Greens are not yet in a death spiral. They continue to appeal to a disaffected and disengaged group of mainly young voters who support (albeit unknowingly) with the radicalised and activist core of Greens members and parliamentarians. The Greens are still more trendy and market savvy than the major parties. Their product is as appealing now as a 1950’s Malboro Man commercial was then. It is just as deadly.

    The ALP is resilient beyond any pundit’s prognostications. It has survived numerous splits and desertion of parliamentary members. It has survived the split of the DLP which would have destroyed most other organisations. For over a century it has managed internally the divisions between the moral conservatives vs the moral relativists, the market supporters vs the authoritarian dirigilists, the nationalists vs the globalists and the ambitious vs purist factions.

    In the Australia of today, the Coalition side of politics is the one most likely to fracture between its more traditional and its more progressive elements.

    The Liberal Party is the party that has suffered the most recent defection in the late 1970’s. The Australian Democrats fundamentally were the Brighton trendies and lefties of the Liberal Party.

    The AD’s cost the Liberals their Senate majority in 1980 and the election in 1983 and buttressed the Hawke government in 1984 and 1987. With the emergence of the Greens, they became less trendy and the 1990 election was a dual effort in denying the Peacock Liberals their victory. The 1993 result was a similar preference saviour for the ALP.

    During this period the base vote of the Liberal Party continued to rise so it became higher than the ALP’s – a complete reversal of the prevailing 1960’s and 1970’s position where the DLP salvaged the Liberals.

    The ALP base vote has been traditionally supported by unionists (males in full-time jobs) and young people. The main shift occurred in the late 1960’s when there was a class identification break in young voting patterns as Whitlam and Cairns harnessed the anti-Vietnam youth vote that became the baby boomer vote. That vote has just now returned to the Liberals as the over 55’s vote as these divorced and destitute boomers realise they need to go home to mother.

    The Gen X youth vote started with the ALP but it was by no means as reliable. As the Xers aged, they became Howard battlers with mortgages.

    Gen Y youth supported the Greens and the ALP decline in electoral fortunes stems from this change.

    The Gen Y’s who were activists have become the watermelons in the Greens and are challenging its traditional tree hugging core values with a bunch of extremist stuff that even the very progressive Brown finds troubling. This will eventually become the Greens undoing. A concerted campaign to show the Greens is led by politically nerdy types just like the other parties will ruin the romantic notion of the Gen Y’s and Gen Z’s.

    Anyway, what does this all mean for an election.

    Firstly, the electoral cycle appears to have turned decisively against the ALP. Since the 1960’s (Hamer notwithstanding), successful Liberal leaders tend to come from what appears to be the more conservative wing of the Party. Turnbull follows Hewson, Peacock and Snedden as a political failure despite in some cases the incredible talent of these men.

    Abbott is a very smart and committed politician with enough nous to be a chameleon on issues (such as workplace relations) where he is potentially perceived as being out of touch with mainstream Australia.

    Gillard is similarly smart and committed but her skills as a chameleon have been found wanting. This has surprised me because I was one of the few to see beyond her successful stint of appearing to be a committed anti-capitalist anti-American pro-Palestinian lesbian-loving leftist in her Australian Union of Students days.

    Gillard must hate those Greens with a passion because they hail from the same roots as the kamikaze left she had to deal with as AUS President when she was part of the concessionist left in student politics. Her disdain for the Liberals probably stems from those days where Liberal students didn’t concede our fight for VSU as part of her move towards an allegedly more democratic and representative student union. She saw us as being as dogmatic and unyielding as the Kamikaze left. At least we were principled!

    I agree with Vexnews that the Liberals can ask the Governor-General to call a double dissolution election if the technical trigger is met before the “new” Senate comes into place on 1 July 2014. I’d be swapping Governors-General just in case as the incumbent is too conflicted.

    It is an interesting constitutional question but it would be a very brave High Court to cancel an election called to resolve the matter or to declare an election already held invalid and bring back a bunch of Greens extremists who had just been rejected by the electorate and give them control of the country again.

    I suspect the October-November 2013 election will not be as big a landslide as people predict. The July-August 2014 DD election will probably be more emphatic if the ALP is stupid enough to oppose the repeal of the laws.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | October 20, 2011, 9:01
  34. Anon @ October 19, 2011, 20:53

    You’re a true patriot and I know it’s important to keep the dream alive. Especially in these dark hours.

    But, you should see the internal lib polling from the last few days.

    The drift has started and the only sound coming from the fed opposition offices in PH is the shnick, shnick of knives being sharpened.

    Posted by Andy's Witchdoctor | October 20, 2011, 9:44
  35. On August 10th last year, The Australian reported:

    “In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.

    ‘I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,’ she said of the next parliament. ‘I rule out a carbon tax.’ ”

    Thus, Gillard did not lie. She didn’t even break a promise – in fact she fulfilled it. It is Abbott who has lied by passing off the carbon pricing mechanism as a tax. Abbott knows full well the difference between a carbon price and a carbon tax, as he showed in that famous Sky News interview in 2009 when he said:

    “If you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?”

    Posted by silkworm | October 20, 2011, 10:17
  36. “Shame Colin Howard QC is no longer with us”

    Give Tony Blackshield a tingle; what he doesn’t know about constitutional matters isn’t worth knowing; nice bloke too. He taught me at Uni but don’t hold that against him.

    Posted by cohenite | October 20, 2011, 11:17
  37. I agree with anonadouche, Turdball will turn off many, however even he is preferable to the labor rabble currently thieving oxygen.

    Sheesh, and they talk about Abbott being unelectable. Turdbucket is as vomit inducing as KRudd and Giblet.

    Posted by Bob Down | October 20, 2011, 18:04
  38. Abbott hasn’t got a snow-balls of winning the next election. He’s an entertaining interlude between elections, but at the next election, the FNA (“Fuck, Not Abbott”) effect will kick in. According to the latest poll he’s now less popular than when he started as Opp Leader. Roadkill.

    Posted by Fred | October 21, 2011, 7:50
  39. Welcome back Julian!!
    That is you isn’t it Julian Burnside QC, posting as Cardinal Pell? …. It certianly sounds like your work

    Posted by Toad of Toad Hall | October 21, 2011, 10:15
  40. Keeping drinking, Fred.

    Posted by Anon | October 21, 2011, 13:43
  41. is Pell Julian or Julia?

    Posted by The Insider | October 21, 2011, 15:08
  42. Antony Green – what about the double dissolution in 1951? The senators elected in ’49 were not due to take their places until July 1950. In May and June ’50 Menzies (twice) passed the Commonwealth Bank Bill in the reps and both times it was returned amended by the senate before the end of June. There followed the 3 months cooling off and Menzies re-presented it to the (new) Senate in Oct. That Senate eventually referred it to a select committee in March 1951, and Menzies got his double dissolution. But the first obstructions of the Senate occurred before the new senators took their places. http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/practice/5Ch13.pdf

    As the account shows there are many ways an Opp can seek to delay but waiting for the newly elected senate didn’t seem to be one of them at the time.

    Posted by Lucy Diamond | October 21, 2011, 16:01
  43. silkworm says: “Thus, Gillard did not lie.”

    Silk purse out of sow’s ear she didn’t lie.


    Posted by cohenite | October 21, 2011, 16:36
  44. Big business has been told not to enter into the carbon trading business. They do at their own peril!

    Posted by Anonymous | October 21, 2011, 20:47
  45. Colin Howard prevented me studying in his class in Advanced Constitutional Law. I therefore don’t have a clue what the law says in abstract theory.

    However, I recall the opinion given by Sir Garfield Barwick to Sir John Kerr in 1975 that a decision of the governor-general to call a double dissolution election would be non-justiciable. However, any legislation passed at a joint sitting of parliament would be potentially questionable if the trigger was not met in accordance with law.

    I do not believe any High Court would stop the election even if the incoming Senators-elect were prevented from taking their seats if the Senate was dissolved prior to 1 July 2014.

    They would have standing as a person affected by the decision to dissolve the parliament but any petition would almost certainly be rejected.

    The Constitution is not simply a legal document – it is a politcal document (establishing a polity) and it is not written the same way as legislation nor ought it be read the same way.

    In any case, we are still talking hypotheticals here.

    The legislation has not yet been passed through the parliament (but it may be). It has not been signed by the Governor-General. It has not been proclaimed. It may not be an issue.

    Assuming it becomes law, it may well be repealed by the ALP before the election. Sometimes, governments do come to their senses. Remember L-A-W tax cuts??

    Assuming it stays on the Statute books, the Coalition still needs to win the election but not by enough to take control of the Senate. This is the likely scenario.

    No one has looked for loopholes in it (like the doomed Australia card legislation post 1987). No one has determined what regulatory impediments can be put in the way of the efficacy of the scheme – almost all legislation now-a-days requires a supportive executive to ensure its ongoing implementation. Effective repeal may be possible via these methods without the need for a parliamentary vote to revoke the laws.

    Assuming the legislation can’t be neutered and rendered ineffectual, it may be that by the time of the election or shortly thereafter, the whole climate change issue will have been resolved against the global warmists and the ALP will agree to repeal the laws.

    Presumably the ALP would rather keep a hostile Senate in place to “do Abbott slowly” (a la Keating) than risk the Greens losing control in a double dissolution. Saner minds may prevail and the ALP may let the repeal through rather than risk a second wipe-out.

    Let’s see what happens.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | October 22, 2011, 20:15
  46. Lucy Diamond – in 1951 the new Senate was given the chance in October to confirm the blockage by the old Senate in June. The three month delay was from October to March. There are several timing issues in 1951 that have since been clarified by 1975 court action that followed from the 1974 Joint Sitting.

    Posted by Antony Green | October 23, 2011, 15:29
  47. Cohenite, if you read my comment carefully, you will see that on the eve of the election Gillard said she would not introduce a carbon tax, but that she would introduce a carbon price, as a means of introducing an ETS. She was making a distinction between a tax, which falls on everyone, and a price, which falls on the biggest polluters. Gillard was in fact making the same distinction in 2010 that Abbott had made the previous year.

    Gillard kept her promise by introducing the carbon pricing legislation.

    Now, in 2011, Abbott blurs the distinction between a price and a tax. The reason is obvious. It fits his narrative about “great big new taxes.” If you were an honest chap, you would stop blurring the distinction too.

    Posted by silkworm | October 23, 2011, 17:16
  48. So did you see Abbott shake hands with her maj as if he were her EQUAL? This guy wants to effectively be King of Oz and he will even – to quote him – “sell his arse” to achieve that aim.
    NOTHING matters, no cost too great

    Posted by John Bowles | October 24, 2011, 7:54
  49. The last Commonwealth election cost taxpayers about $53 million in payment to parties and candidates who got 4%+ of the primary voter so two elections could see this figure more that doubled.

    This could have been avoided if swinging voters had gone against the ALP but they didn’t and now we have a hung parliament with the ALP supported by a few independents.

    With support for the ALP now as low as support for the republican losers lets bring on the two elections but Liberal Party no more unwinnable foreign wars thank you.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | October 24, 2011, 19:49
  50. Antony, am no lawyer, but doesn’t it say in constitution “and if AFTER an
    interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, AGAIN passes
    the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made …”?
    This doesn’t appear to have been the case in March, 1951 : ie after the interval, the Reps did not AGAIN pass the law, it had done that the previous Oct; what happened was the Senate got around to blocking it in Mar ’51 and Menzies immediately requested a double dissolution.
    This would suggest that the 3 month interval requirement was met between June and Oct 1950, not between Oct and Mar ’51?

    Posted by Lucy Diamond | October 24, 2011, 21:18
  51. I think the key words are within the current or next SESSION.

    Bring on the double I say and rid us of the green slime that has pervaded out democracy. Gillard came close to a possible trigger with the Immigration bill. A few liberals crossing the floor on the lower house was all that was needed. A double is on the cards, much depends on just how low the ALP primary vote is and whether that transfers into a win-fall for the liberal party of the Greens. The ALP has more to lose in a half Senate election then they do in a full Senate election. Feeney is the one who will lose his seat in a half Senate in Victoria, In a full Senate election has has a chance to survive as the Greens will not have two Quotas, falling short and stuck in teh watsed quota basket.

    Posted by Diamonds4ever | October 25, 2011, 19:43
  52. The meaning of the three month delay was clarified by Victoria v Commonwealth (1975). You may be right that the specified October to March 3 month delay does not meet the modern test, but it didn’t matter. The Menzies government won a Senate majority so the question could never be questioned by the High Court. The legal challenges to the 1974 double dissolution and joint sitting make it clear that these matters can only be invoked after the full use of Section 57, which means double dissolution and joint sitting. The High Court has clearly stated it will not undo an election, which means if a government has a double dissolution and wins a Senate majority, it can pass its DD trigger legislation as a normal bill. But if it requires a joint sitting, then all aspects of the trigger must meet constitutional guidelines. That was why the Whitlam government’s Pipelines and Minerals Authority act was nullified by the High Court, because it relied on a joint sitting for passage.

    I have been trying to find a copy of Menzies advice to the GG in 1951. The odd step was for Menzies to ask the Senate in October 1950 to re-confirm its June 1950 vote. If you are right and the June vote in the old Senate met the requirements of Section 57, why re-commit the vote in October? Without the written advice, I presume it was to remove the chances of the new Senate saying it wasn’t consulted. This would have been important on 1950 as 18 Senators retired on 30 June and 42 commenced their terms on 1 July with the expansion of the Senate.

    In 1951 no Senate seats were terminated without Senators taking their seats and without having the legislation before them twice. If a new Senate was terminated before taking its seats, those Senators would have standing for an injunction to prevent their terms being terminated by a double dissolution. Whether the High Court would agree is for the Court, but as the High Court wouldn’t be able to hear the matter after the writ or issue orders to undo the action, it would be a case where an injunction request would be heard.

    Posted by Antony Green | October 26, 2011, 11:40
  53. Found the advice. The government stated July as the first blockage and re-introduced the legislation in October. The second vote on the first bill was moved by the Opposition in the Senate in October and it claimed this should have been the date of the first Senate defeat. The government’s stated claim of ‘fail to pass’ was based on no action being taken by March 1951, nine months after the July defeat. Some constitutional lawyers dispute this meaning of ‘fail to pass’ but it was never tested in the High Court because the government won control of the Senate at the 1951 double dissolution.

    Menzies had several possible triggers but the government decided the Commonwealth Bank bill best met the requirements. The had been angling to get a double dissolution on the Communist Party ban legislation but Labor let it through the Senate.

    Posted by Antony Green | October 27, 2011, 11:59
  54. Antony Green – The timing issue in Vic v Commonwealth 1975 was whether or not the 3 month interval dates from the House’s first passing of the bill or the Senate’s first negating of it. Also about whether Senate had actually “failed to pass” in the first instance. It wasn’t about the make-up of the senate at the time, so am not sure what relevance it has to the issue we are talking about? http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1975/39.html

    As you say, the ’75 clear statements by HC means that legal challenges to DD legislation can only be invoked after full use of Sec 57, which means a double dissolution and a joint sitting. Doesn’t that also mean that any challenge to the repeal of the cleanenergy bill on the grounds of the make-up of the senate can only be made AFTER a joint sitting passes the legislation, not used as a delaying tactic before that?

    Am not sure what you mean by the “modern test”? The constitution states clearly that after the 3 months interval the House must “AGAIN pass the proposed law, with or without any amendments which have been made …”. Menzies recommitted the vote on Oct 11 1950 in order to meet that constitutional requirement – what is odd about it? If he’d had concerns about the make-up of the Senate he would have recommitted the second time (ie “again”) in the following March in order to meet the constitutional requirement. The fact that he didn’t in itself suggests he had no concerns, at least as far as this bunny can see.

    There’s a good account of all this, and of all DDs, also of advice to GG in 1951 at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/pubs/practice/5Ch13.pdf
    and also at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/pubs/odgers/chap2107.htm

    Posted by Lucy Diamond | October 28, 2011, 3:45
  55. Ant – hadn’t seen your last post before I replied. Can you post that advice in full?
    Just goes to show one should never get bored in London otherwise would never have googled double dissolutions. But now am right into it and have to know it all.
    For eg why did Ming state July as the first blockage when it happened on June 21-23 according to both those accounts I linked to?
    It was fascinating to read how Labor fought that leglislation tooth and nail at the time.

    Posted by Lucy Diamond | October 28, 2011, 3:57
  56. In the real world, Silkworms after they have spun get dropped in boiling water and ‘harvested’.

    Like it or not, the electorate is not happy with the impression that something that was disallowed before the election was then foisted on them after it. I think that yes we may indeed see a double dissolution on the matter. If feelings are still so strong, Abbott would be mad not too.

    If we are then landed with two terms of a Abbott government then the spinners in the Greens and Labor better watch out brickbats from their own people. We will know where to stick the blame for such a disaster.

    Posted by Spun out. | October 28, 2011, 7:31