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Welcome to "THE VERDICT: Australia 2016" homepage, hosted here at! Here you will find information regarding the election that has been called for July 2, 2016 to constitute the 45th Parliament of Australia. Unlike most elections, this upcoming election is a double dissolution election, in which the entire Australian Senate (all twelve seats from each state, and both seats in each of the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory for a total of 76 seats) as well as the entire House of Representatives (150 seats) are up for election. This is in contrast to a standard election, which has the entire House and only half of the seats in each state (6) and the four territory senators up for election in the Senate, provided that all timeframes are met so as not to desynchronize the election process.

So, how does a
double dissolution election take place? A double dissolution election may be called by the Prime Minister upon formal advice to the Governor-General if (a) at least six months remain in the parliamentary term, (b) The House has passed a bill that the Senate has either amended to render unacceptable to the House for passage to the Governor-General for Royal Assent (final approval) or has outright rejected the bill and (c) after a three month period, the House has passed the same bill, and the Senate effectively takes the same action as before. This in turn creates a trigger that the Prime Minister may include in advice to the Governor General to call an election upon the grounds of Section 57 of the Australian Constitution. This does not mean the Prime Minister has to call for a double dissolution, it merely means they have the ability to. The ability is lost however, if there is less than six months remaining in a parliamentary term.

How many Double Dissolution elections has Australia had? Despite the propensity for double dissolution elections to occur (thanks in large part to a Senate that is rarely under majority control of any one party), double dissolution elections have been called just six times prior to this election (2016 makes it seven). The batting average for governments is three wins, two losses, and one election that is a technical win for the Fraser Coalition government in 1975 due to the Constitutional crisis that year that saw the Governor-General (Sir John Kerr) dismiss the last elected Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.

So, how did we get to this election? In 2013, the ALP (Australian Labor Party) government lead by Julia Gillard was heading for electoral oblivion. Internal party discord (thanks to a failed leadership challenge by Kevin Rudd in 2012 and a leadership challenge in March 2013 that fizzled before the vote) left voters dissatisfied. In addition, the carbon tax and mining tax schemes as well as the asylum seeker policy also fueled voter discontent. In June 2013, Kevin Rudd mounted a second challenge for the leadership versus Julia Gillard that was successful in returning him to the post of Prime Minister. For a time, voters began to warm back to the ALP, and it appeared the country was heading for a knife edge election for a second straight electoral cycle. This was not to be, as Tony Abbott lead the Coalition (consisting of the Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, Liberal National Party of Queensland and Country Liberals of the Northern Territory) to a strong victory, seemingly almost without a hitch. That was, until a thousand ballot papers were lost in Western Australia (WA) in pertinence to the six Senate seats up for election there. After a thorough investigation, the Court of Disputed Returns voided the Senate result in WA and called a special Senate half-election for those six seats, which were filled in time for the Senators to take their seats as proscribed in the Constitution on July 1.

As for the Coalition Government, the polls were initially supportive of Tony Abbott, especially as Labor scrambled to elect a new leader (through a membership vote weighted equally with the parliamentary caucus vote). Even as Labor elected Bill Shorten, the Coalition continued to enjoy small leads, alternating with Labor leads in the polls. But as the honeymoon period faded, so did Abbott's lead, and eventually the Labor Party, despite losing seventeen seats in 2013 gained a consistent and strong lead. A warning shot signal to Tony Abbott's leadership appeared in February 2015 in the form of a failed Leadership spill motion that would have triggered a leadership election for the Liberal Party of Australia (and as the senior party of the Coalition, a potential change in the Prime Minister position). Despite Tony Abbott prevailing (and somewhat chastened by the attempt), polls continued to show the voting populace dour attitude to the ruling Coalition. By September 2015, the bad polls and the potential of losing an otherwise fairly safe seat in a by-election in Western Australia were too much for the Liberal Party and the Coalition. Malcolm Trumbull routed Tony Abbott for the leadership, and thus became Prime Minister as a result. The voters responded positively to Turnbull's leadership, at least for a time. But as 2015 turned into 2016, the Turnbull government found the voter population getting impatient. In addition, the Senate created no fewer than four triggers during the parlimentary term for a potential double dissolution. Sensing there was no better alternative to call the election, Turnbull cited three of the four trigger bills for calling for a double dissolution election, his advice was accepted, and the 2016 Election is now underway, with the voters rendering a verdict on the Turnbull government on July 2, 2016.
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