CANBERRA, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied reports that he is preparing to hold two general elections in 2019 in an attempt to hold on to power.
Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday that Morrison was entertaining the option of holding an election for the Senate, the upper house of Australia’s Parliament, in the first half of 2019 and one for the House of Representatives, the lower house, later in the year.
Responding to the reports, a spokesperson for Morrison said that “the government has no plans for a dual election. The election is due next year.”
The terms of 18 of Australia’s 76 Senators will expire in June 2019, meaning that an election for the house must be held before that date.
Elections for the Senate and House of Representatives have been held concurrently since the 1980s but holding dual elections would give Morrison’s governing Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP) more time to try and stave off the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP).
Even if the ALP secured a majority in the Senate in the first election the LNP would maintain power because government is formed in the House of Representatives.
Opinion polls have revealed that the LNP is set for a landslide defeat at the hands of the ALP in 2019 with voters citing the LNP’s August leadership crisis as a key reason for preferring the opposition.
Chris Bowen, a senior member of the ALP, on Tuesday slammed the proposed dual elections.
“It would have them clinging to power until the last minute for the election, inconvenience to the public, massive additional costs,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio.
“Why is it good for the public to vote twice? To pay for two elections? It’s a ridiculous proposal.”
If Morrison goes ahead with a simultaneous election it would likely be held on May 18, the last possible date for a simultaneous election.