Aussie opposition leader warns of second election
By James Grubel ,ReutersCANBERRA -- Australia faces a possible fourth straight year of political instability after opposition leader Tony Abbott, on track to win power in a September election, threatened a second poll if a hostile upper house rejects his plan to scrap a tax on carbon.
February 1, 2013, 1:01 am TWN
One day after Prime Minister Julia Gillard surprised voters by announcing a Sept. 14 election, Abbott on Thursday promised to scrap a carbon tax if he wins office, but added he would call a second election if a hostile Senate rejected his plans.
“If it takes a double dissolution to do it, I won't hesitate to have one,” conservative leader Abbott told the National Press Club in Canberra, referring to the dissolution of both houses of parliament which would mean another election.
Even if Abbott wins a September election, the Greens and Labor will control a majority in the Senate until at least July 2014, and possibly until 2017. A second election of both houses in 2014 could give him the Senate numbers to abolish the carbon tax, or to ensure a joint sitting of both houses to repeal it.
Australia has endured three years of political instability with Gillard's minority Labor government relying on a handful of independents and Greens to command a one-seat majority and pass legislation.
With the next election eight months away, opinion polls show Abbott is on track for an easy victory, with Gillard's Labor set to lose up to 18 seats. Abbott only needs to win two government-held seats to win power.
But Abbott has one big problem, a seemingly entrenched disapproval rating, which was at 58 percent in January. Gillard is also disliked by voters, with a disapproval rating of 49 percent, but Gillard leads Abbott as preferred prime minister.