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March 11, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull is desperate to find a justification for a double dissolution trigger, and is willing to mislead Australians to get it.

Malcolm Turnbull claims a double dissolution is not a political tactic but his comments about his industrial relations bills prove that it is.

This morning on ABC TV Malcolm Turnbull said that the crossbench can avoid a double dissolution election by voting for the Registered Organisations Bill and the ABCC Bill.

This is not true.

The Registered Organisations Bill was defeated on 17 August 2015 and is no longer in the Parliament.

The ABCC Bill is not even listed for debate.

The crossbench couldn’t vote for either Bill even if they wanted to.   

But the only reason to go to a double dissolution is to resolve a deadlock, and as you know, there are two big industrial laws which will basically clean up union corruption… And that's the Registered Organisations Bill…. and the other Bill is the one that would restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission... Now what I'm saying to the senators and particularly to the crossbenchers and indeed to the Labor Party and the Greens: vote for those Bills.

When asked by the ABC whether that means Parliament should vote for those Bills or else, he said:

Well, [if] they vote for those Bills then there would be no question, we wouldn't even be talking about the possibility of a double dissolution… but the way to take that option away is for the senators to pass those bills.

In the same interview, Malcolm Turnbull repeated yesterday's untruth regarding the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) Bill and the Registered Organisations legislation:

That bill, together with another twice rejected by the Senate, would implement the substance of the recommendations of the Trade Union Royal Commission.

The ABCC Bill and the Registered Organisations Bill precede the findings of the politically partisan Royal Commission.

In fact both bills were introduced before TURC began and were defeated before its conclusion.

This was not an off-the-cuff comment from the Prime Minister. It was in a prepared speech.

The Government has taken no steps to implement the recommendations of its $80 million taxpayer-funded Royal Commission.  

In contrast, Labor has announced a package of governance changes aimed at deterring and detecting corruption in unions, including doubling the maximum penalties for all criminal offences under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act.

Labor has also released a strong plan to protect workers from exploitation from unscrupulous employers.

The Turnbull Government has consistently said they would resort to a double dissolution election if they could not pass the ABCC Bill.

Now, the Prime Minister and the Employment Minister have abandoned that pretext, saying that the Registered Organisations Bill will do as a pretext for bringing on an early election.

This is a Government that is desperately searching for a reason to go to a double dissolution election, to hide its own lack of plans and policy drift.