A July 2 election is increasingly likely as crossbench senators dig in against Turnbull government plans to restore the building industry watchdog.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon believes legislation to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission will fail in the upper house for a second time.
‘We will be going to the polls on July 2,’ he told ABC radio on Monday.Parliament has been recalled three weeks early so the Senate can deal with bills Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has threatened to use as a trigger for a double-dissolution election.
There is no guarantee the ABCC bill will even get to the stage where amendments are even considered by the Senate.If it does, Senator Xenophon plans to move an amendment which ensures Australian steel is used on building projects.
Fellow crossbenchers Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie and John Madigan are opposed to the legislation in its existing form.Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm believes the latest opinion polls, showing Labor and the coalition neck and neck, may influence the government.
‘Perhaps they have changed it from a non-genuine offer to negotiate to a genuine offer,’ he told reporters. Attorney-General George Brandis insists Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has been negotiating with crossbenchers in good faith.He rejected claims the government was not serious about passing the bill.
Asked about the numbers in the chamber, Senator Brandis told ABC radio: ‘I don’t think we will know until we get to the final vote’.Senator Cash says she will continue to have an ongoing dialogue.
‘I think everybody knows in politics anything can happen at any time,’ she said.Both ministers also hit out at a ‘hysterical’ trade union ad which claims under the ABCC ice addicts have more rights than construction workers.
‘It goes to show the depths to which the CFMEU will stoop in trying to protect their own position in this industry that the best they can do is run a campaign which is utterly dishonest,’ Senator Brandis said.