Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned he will dissolve parliament and call early federal elections if his reforms are not approved just six months into the job, marking yet another sharp turn in the tumultuous world of politics Down Under.
Announced early on Monday, Turnbull's decision reflects increasing frustration with crossbenchers, or senators from minor parties, who have repeatedly blocked key legislation that the ruling Liberal Party deems essential for the economy.
At the crux of the issue is Turnbull's desire to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), the construction industry's watchdog, which was abolished in 2012.
The Senate obstructed the bill at a meeting in February and if opposition continues at a scheduled review next month, it will be the second rejection and provide Turnbull ammunition to dissolve both upper and lower houses of parliament, according to Australian law. Under that scenario, Turnbull will move federal elections to July 2 from their scheduled date of January 2017 and bring forward the federal budget to May 3.
Early elections are essentially a means for Turnbull to consolidate his leadership and avoid suffering the same fate of his predecessor Tony Abbott, political scientists said.
Turnbull came to power last September after toppling former Liberal leader Tony Abbott in a snap vote after incessant criticism of the latter's leadership style, particularly Abbott's inability to pass reforms in parliament, a problem that Turnbull now faces.
"When Turnbull came to leadership, he claimed he would work better with crossbenchers [than Abbott] but that hasn't panned out. Elections are a way to resolve that impasse," explained Peter Chen, senior lecturer at the University of Sydney.
"He needs to win an election in his own right so he can put his stamp on the government," agreed Sarah Maddison, associate professor of politics at the University of Melbourne.
A new poll published by The Australian on Monday revealed Turnbull's approval rating as prime minister entered negative territory for the first time since he assumed power, casting doubt on his party's ability to win the July elections. Australia's political system is known for being notoriously volatile, having seen five prime ministers in as many years, with Turnbull set to become the sixth leader since 2010 if he loses the vote.