Australia carbon laws fail, election possible
Australia's parliament rejected laws to set up a carbon trading scheme on Wednesday, scuttling a key climate change policy of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and providing a potential trigger for an early 2010 election.
Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the government would re-introduce the carbon trade bills in February to give the opposition Liberal Party one more chance to support the scheme, adding the government was not looking at an early election.
"Today the climate change extremists and deniers ... have stopped this nation taking action on climate change," Gillard told reporters.
"This nation is one of the hottest and driest continents on Earth. We are going to be hit particularly hard and early by climate change," she said. "We are determined to deliver the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, we are determined to deliver real action on climate change."
The second rejection of the carbon-trade legislation by a hostile Senate on Wednesday gave Rudd a legal trigger to call an election that could come as early as March or April 2010, and to then ram his laws through a special joint sitting of both houses of parliament if he was returned to power.
But Gillard played down early election speculation.
"The prime minister has made it very clear that it is his intention to have the parliament go full term," she said....MORE
SNAP ANALYSIS: Rudd handed election option on climate
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been handed a trigger for an early election, giving him the option of going to the polls any time from early 2010 in order to resolve a deadlock over his carbon trade scheme.
The carbon emissions trade scheme was a key plank of Rudd's political agenda and plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and was a central promise of his 2007 election win.
This is how the issue might now play out.
* Rudd's carbon trade laws are unlikely to be revived until after an election. Normal elections for the lower house and half the Senate are due in late 2010.
* But Rudd could call a double dissolution, of the full Senate and House of Representatives, to clear the deadlock on the carbon bills. If he wins, he can then push the deadlocked package of 11 bills through a special joint sitting of both houses of parliament, where he would normally have a clear majority.
* The most likely dates for an early election would be in March or April 2010. But Rudd is a cautious politician, and will be wary about going early. Polls suggest Rudd would win, but he could find it very tough to sell a policy that is expected to drive up power bills and increase costs for business.
* The election of social conservative Tony Abbott as opposition leader on Tuesday further clouds the outlook. Abbott would be expected to have a honeymoon period of popularity in the polls, making an early election a risk for Rudd....MORE
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Rudd has trigger - but a March election unlikely
From The Australian:
THE Government finally has a ''trigger'' for a March election but - unless something happens out of the blue - don't expect it to face the people until later in the year.
One big clue came yesterday, when acting PM Julia Gillard announced Labor would bring in revamped emissions bills in February.If Kevin Rudd does want a double dissolution, the legislation defeated yesterday does the job legally, but falls short in a policy sense....MUCH MORE
Rudd won't pull election trigger soon
KEVIN Rudd has his finger on the double dissolution trigger, but the trigger has a safety catch. Our Prime Minister is determined not to shoot himself in the foot, so he will handle the weapon carefully.
The provision for double dissolutions, in section 57 of the Constitution, would allow the government to call an election either now, after the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bill was rejected a second time, or as late as next spring -- six months before the latest date for a general election.
Under section 57, if the House of Representatives passes a bill which the Senate then rejects, passes with amendments which are unacceptable to the lower house, or "fails to pass", and if the process is repeated after three months, "the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously".
Section 57 further provides that if, after a double dissolution has taken place and the bill is again passed by the lower house but runs into trouble in the Senate, a joint sitting of both houses can be held where, presumably, the government will prevail.
The double dissolution weapon has only been deployed six times. There has only ever been one joint sitting, in 1974, during which the Whitlam government passed a number of bills including those that established Medibank.A double dissolution can be dangerous for governments because of what it means for the election of senators, who have six-year terms, with half the Senate up for re-election at every normal poll....MORE