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By Larry Anthony

Director - SAS Group

Australia looks set for a double-dissolution election on July 2nd, unless the independent Senators cave into the Industrial Relations legislation.

The decisive move by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to recall the Parliament, demonstrates his resolve to push through the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation. If the Senate fails to pass the Bill then this is to act as the double-dissolution trigger. 

 

This, along with the Registered Organisations Bill and the findings of the Heydon Royal Commission into the Unions, will set the scene for Industrial Relations to be at the centre of the election campaign.

But to win an election, a Government must also have policies that appeal to the middle-ground, particularly the environment, health, education and the economy. 

Last week, Prime Minister Turnbull asserted his own mandate with the re-instigation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and renewable energy policies to send a pro-environmental signal.

COAG will meet on Friday this week and the Government has flagged a major policy shift on the funding formula for hospitals and schools to be within State responsibilities. It is so significant that it may allow States to charge their own taxes in order to fund health and education. An interesting move by the Federal Government to shift the fiscal responsibilities from the Budget back on to the State balance sheet. 

This is a deft move by the Government that has snatched the political agenda from Labor, but there are still dark clouds emanating from within.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the MPs loyal to him, can still be one of the greatest risks to the Governments re-election. Political observers should never underestimate former Prime Ministers who remain in Parliament to try and protect their legacy.

Compound this with the polls still narrowing between the Coalition and Labor (Newspoll: 51/49 to Coalition) and the ongoing saga of political donations affecting the NSW Liberal Party, the scene is set for a tight contest.

History has shown that Federal Elections are usually tight contests, with only a few percentage points between the major parties. History also tells us that Governments lose elections as opposed to oppositions winning.

Whilst the odds favour the return of the Turnbull-Joyce Government, no one should underestimate the idiosyncrasies of two dozen marginal seats across the country. It's not just the national and local issues that will determine the outcome, but the effectiveness of the hand-to-hand combat of candidates in these crucial seats. 

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