Remember, there is still a federal budget to be delivered on May 3, and financial appropriations bills to be passed after that. And then Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech on May 5. Only then will Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull make the drive to Yarralumla and advise the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of the 44th Parliament for the July 2 poll.
Despite scheduling three weeks to debate his blocked ABCC legislation, or face the supposedly horrifying threat of an election that would end their careers, Senate crossbenchers acted post-haste, showing no fear and doing their best impression of Turkeys voting for an early Christmas.
Most will soon be historical footnotes – unable to amass the votes needed in their respective states without opaque preference swaps to swell their margins. They have taken a big risk by sticking to their guns, but to their credit, they at least did it quickly.
But so too has Turnbull rolled the dice. Between now and July 2, though there are 75 news-charged election days. Seventy five days of which some will be good and others bad – as is the nature of campaigns.
Ideally, Turnbull would have started this more strongly. But this is politics. A government that just a couple months ago was regarded as unbeatable is now level-pegging with a resurgent Labor opposition that has barely put a foot wrong in strategic terms.
Turnbull has always been a risk-taker, whether in law, business, or politics. Mostly it has worked and the pay-offs have been handsome, propelling him forward, and making him enormously rich by ordinary standards. But there have been spectacular overreaches as well – which is how he lost the Liberal leadership in 2009.
The government’s fate rests in an unlikely budget, which has suddenly become central to its political fortunes, and a still popular Prime Minister’s well-known communications skills. But Shorten is coming hard, and in a two horse race, cannot be counted out.