Turnbull Brings Forward Budget to May 3 as Early Election Looms

Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull.

Photographer: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull brought forward the federal budget announcement by a week to May 3 and threatened to call an early election unless the Senate passes legislation to crack down on trade unions.

Turnbull said militant union activity was acting as a “handbrake on growth” and said a so-called double dissolution election will be held on July 2, unless bills to restore a building industry watchdog and set up a commission to regulate unions are passed.

The prime minister, who has seen the Liberal National coalition’s opinion poll lead evaporate in recent weeks, is seeking to make industrial relations a key election platform. With the construction industry crucial to maintaining jobs and growth in the economy as a mining investment boom wanes, the former investment banker is betting he can pressure the main opposition Labor Party with the issue and win over more voters.

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