It’s looking increasingly likely that Australians will head to the polls on July 2 for a double dissolution election, with the majority of Senators still opposed to the federal government’s bid to reinstate the construction industry watchdog.
Governor-General Peter Cosgrove recalled Parliament this morning to bring forward debate on the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to call a double dissolution election should the bill not pass the Senate.
However, the majority of micro-party and independent Senators remain opposed to the bill.
This week is also shaping up to be an important one for small business because the Government is also looking to freeze the new minimum pay rates for owner-operator truck drivers and abolish the Road Safety and Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
Truckies from across the country have descended on Canberra to lobby politicians, arguing the new pay rates – which do not affect big business – will put smaller operators out of work.
Speaking to journalists this morning, Queensland independent Senator Glenn Lazarus urged the government to address owner-operator pay rates and the RSRT before the ABCC issue.
“This is devastating the truck drivers’ lives and livelihoods,” Lazarus said.
“There is so much uncertainty in the industry now that it’s not funny. This needs to be dealt with now. As I say, people are taking their lives, people are losing their trucks, losing their houses, they are losing business on a daily basis.”
Small business community just wants certainty
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany the majority of people up in Canberra and Parliament House believe there will be an early election on July 2.
“The ABCC bill will be rejected, the RSRT will be dissolved and things will continue as per the script – that’s the feeling at the moment,” Strong says.
“There’s no guarantee yet, but everyone’s feeling it.”
Strong says a double dissolution will be good news for small business because it will likely provide some certainty for the next three years.
“It’s a good thing to get it [the election] over and done with,” Strong says.
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“One of the things we hate is uncertainty. Once it’s done, what we really want is to have the same prime minister and the same government – whoever it is – for the next three years. If certain parties control the Senate, that’s fine, we just want the same government and the same prime minister.”
Australia has had two small business ministers in two-and-a-half years.
Under the previous Rudd and Gillard governments, there were six small business ministers in six years.
Most recent polling shows the Government and Labor Party are neck-and-neck, according to Fairfax.