Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says early election of both houses a 'live option'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told Coalition MPs that a double dissolution election this year is a "live option".

Key points:

  • Turnbull made double dissolution comments while discussing re-establishing ABCC
  • Senate has already blocked the legislation once
  • Representative from both parties invited to view secret volume of TURC report

Mr Turnbull made the comments while discussing his desire for legislation to re-establish the Howard government-era industrial watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

The Senate has already blocked the legislation to bring back the union fighting construction watchdog once and it will be the first item of business when the House of Representatives sits at noon.

It comes on the back of the Trade Unions Royal Commission (TURC).

The bill has been met with opposition from both Labor and the Greens.

A representative from both parties will now be allowed to view a secret volume of the TURC report from the royal commission, but the ABC understands both Labor and the Greens will decline the offer.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott also used the threat of a double dissolution election when facing Senate roadblocks, but never acted on it.

Offers on the table for secret TURC documents viewing

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said he received the offer in a letter from his Government counterpart George Brandis yesterday.

Mr Dreyfus told the ABC he would reject the offer, which he described as "beyond farcical".

"For weeks the Government has been point blank refusing to provide these volumes, now it has backflipped," he said.

"How can it be taken seriously when it keeps chopping and changing its position?

"I refuse to play political games as dictated by George Brandis.

"The Government has got itself into a huge mess because it wanted to play politics with this report — it's either confidential or it's not."

Four crossbench senators have also been offered access to the report — Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie, Dio Wang and Ricky Muir.

Senator Wang's office said they were offered the briefing and have accepted, after informal discussions with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash over the summer break.

The PUP Senator is expected to view the report next week, but is unsure on his position.

Family First Senator Bob Day met with Senator Cash over summer as well, but will not seek a briefing.

Independent Senator John Madigan has not been offered a viewing, but is expected to be briefed by Senator Cash soon.

Senator Madigan described the threat of a double dissolution as a gun to his head, but said it would not influence his decision.

"Holding a gun to my head will not change how I vote," he said.

"I vote on the merits of legislation according to its impact on working Australians. I will continue to do this and if the Prime Minister thinks he will change how I vote by threatening a double dissolution, he is wrong."

Fellow crossbenchers Nick Xenophon and David Leyonhjelm both told media they were unlikely to view the document.

Both are tipped to support the changes, with Senator Xenophon previously offering conditional support if there was more protection for whistleblowers.

Source: ABC News

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