MICK Tsikasaap

Dissolution threat ‘blackmail’

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to call a double dissolution election if the Senate does not pass key legislation has been labelled as "blackmail" and "panicked".

Mr Turnbull announced yesterday that Australia would head to the polls on July 2 for a double dissolution election if the Senate did not pass the ABCC (Australia Building and Construction Commission) and Registered Organisations bills.

He has ordered Parliament sit next month to determine the legislation.

The Federal Budget has also been moved a week earlier to May 3.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Australians had seen a prime minister in "full panic mode".

He also said Labor was not afraid of a double dissolution election.

Labor colleague Mark Dreyfus said there had been only four times since 1961 when Parliament had been prorogued.

"There is no example in modern times of a government proroguing Parliament to obtain political advantage or, as here, to override sitting scheduling decisions already taken by the Senate," Mr Dreyfus said.

But Attorney-General George Brandis said Mr Dreyfus was off the mark, arguing it was the 29th time since Federation that Parliament had been prorogued and called back.

Senator Glenn Lazarus said the Prime Minister's announcement felt like a threat. He said he would not be "blackmailed" or "bullied" into a making a decision and he did not support the ABCC legislation in its current form.

The ABCC legislation seeks to re-establish the construction watchdog to ensure building work is carried out fairly, efficiently and productively.

Mr Turnbull said re-establishing the ABCC was a critical economic reform and would lead to more investment, infrastructure, jobs and affordable housing. He said the time for playing games was over.

"This is an opportunity for the Senate to do its job of legislating rather than filibustering - the go-slows and obstruction by Labor and the Greens on this key legislation must end," he said.

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