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The national interest demands a double dissolution

By Syd Hickman - posted Wednesday, 30 December 2015

In Turnbull we have the most capable Prime Minister since Hawke, and he seems to have some talented people with him. After many years of disastrously bad government, and with many big problems looming, we should have an election and let them get on with it. No doubt they will make mistakes but there are no other serious options.

In the national interest Turnbull should visit the GG on or about 5 February to request a double dissolution election on 12 March.

That timing would allow one sitting week of Parliament where the troops could be rallied and instructed. The problems and solutions that will form the core of the campaign could be spelled out in solid parliamentary speeches. If the Government had the nerve it could pass an electoral bill with the help of The Greens to finally stop Senators being elected with votes of less than one per-cent.


If the Government was actually courageous it could use the Ian MacFarlane fiasco as an excuse to tell the Nationals to run in the Senate on their own, and that they would be opposed by Liberals in the Reps seats they hold. That would pretty much be the end of the rural handout party. With less bravery Turnbull could ensure, by setting the order on Senate candidate lists, that only one National gets up in the Senate races in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, reducing their representation from five. Of course this scenario is unlikely. The Nationals get less than 5% of the vote outside Queensland but the Liberals will probably keep propping them up.

The PM could also use the excuse of a sudden election to get central control of pre-selections and replace some of the least attractive MPs with talented newcomers.

The last step could be to preference the Greens in seats they can take from Labor. One of Bismark's great rules for success was to never fight a war on two fronts, which is where the ALP will find itself anyway, but the preferences would increase the problem.

The Coalition will probably win around 100 seats in the Reps, up from 90 now. That will leave the ALP in pathetic shape, sharing 50 seats with Greens and Independents. The survival of the ALP will depend on its response to the disaster. The Greens will be pushing hard to win more Reps seats and to portray themselves as a rational progressive party. Some of their branch members have already resigned due to the early signs of common sense from the new leadership so this election will set the scene for a real battle between the radical members who just want to protest everything and their saner MPs and voters.

A big win for Turnbull would mean the Liberals could govern without the Nationals if they so chose, even if the Nationals held their 15 seats in the House. The likely National survivors in the Senate are young and may be ambitious enough to join the Liberal Party if the rewards were high enough. The Nationals' leaders could hardly complain.

While an early election would solve various problems within his own side, Turnbull would also be empowered to refresh and implement key policies. He has said he would not make big changes to superannuation without taking them to an election so going early is the only way to get them into his first budget.


With so much sorted out the Government could frame a serious budget for May 10 as planned, and begin to tackle the many difficult problems that have been ignored for so long.

Those problems include the worsening failure of the private health system, which the Health Minister is keen to fix but could tackle more determinedly after an election.

Then there is the revenue/outlays problem. A massive win will help with the States and allow for serious cuts in spending. Most importantly it will empower Turnbull to do the really hard work of cutting handouts to his own well-off voters.

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About the Author

Syd Hickman has worked as a school teacher, soldier, Commonwealth and State public servant, on the staff of a Premier, as chief of Staff to a Federal Minister and leader of the Opposition, and has survived for more than a decade in the small business world.

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