CANBERRA – [AAP]
The prime minister and Opposition leader are engaged in shadow boxing as speculation grows about a July 2 double dissolution election, with Bill Shorten making an appearance in Lismore today.
PM Malcolm Turnbull will talk up Australia’s economic transition when he addresses a business lunch in Adelaide on Thursday.
Mr Turnbull is expected to address a Business SA lunch in Adelaide as the coalition seeks to bolster its stocks in a state hit hard by the closure of car manufacturing.
Mr Shorten will take his campaign to Lismore.
Liberal frontbencher Arthur Sinodinos says there is a simple explanation regarding when an election will be held.
‘The prime minister will make up his mind and go when he thinks he can win,’ Senator Sinodinos told Sky News.
He said the double dissolution had been spoken of as a ‘live option’ to pressure crossbench senators into supporting key government bills, such as restoring the building industry watchdog.
Windsor, Buckingham to challenge Joyce
Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has a fight on his hands with former independent MP Tony Windsor expected to announce a challenge in his seat of New England.
Mr Windsor held New England from 2001, standing aside at the 2013 election, party because of an unspecified medical condition.
Mr Joyce now holds the seat with a comfortable margin of 20 per cent, though Mr Windsor still has substantial support.
Mr Windsor will hold a media conference in Canberra on Thursday morning to announce his decision.
He has taken a high profile in the fight against the Shenhua Watermark mine since retiring from parliament in 2013.
The mine, which has conditional government approval, still needs a NSW mining licence and federal approval for the project’s water management plan before it can proceed.
A Reachtel poll conducted in January found 32.2 per cent primary support for Mr Windsor, compared with 39.5 per cent for Mr Joyce – down from 54 per cent at the 2013 election.
However, preferences from Country Labor, Greens and independents could get Mr Windsor over the line.
Meanwhile, local Fairfax Media is reporting that NSW Greens upper house MP Jeremy Buckingham is ‘close to announcing’ a run against Mr Joyce in the seat.
The Greens won just 4.6 per cent of the primary vote in New England at the last election, but the party believes that Mr Buckingham would boost that vote significantly.
‘We want to make New England a referendum on coal mining,’ a source told the Glen Innes Examiner.