Aus PM threatens historic govt dissolution


Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has threatened to force an early election.

If he pulls the trigger, Australia will face an election campaign lasting more than 100 days and the possibility of a sixth leader in as many years.

The prospect of that is tiring, even for the man at the top.

Frustrated by his senate, Mr Turnbull has given cross-benchers an ultimatum -- pass his bills targeting construction unions, or else.

But cross-benchers are firing back.

Many are refusing to be "blackmailed" by the Prime Minister.

"If it's a take it or leave it attitude, then I'm going to leave it," one says.

If Mr Turnbull doesn't get his way, he will dissolve both houses of Parliament in what's called a double dissolution election.

It's a rare move -- the last one was in 1987. It would mean an early election and 103 days of political campaigning.

His ultimatum has attracted some unlikely praise.

President Frank Underwood of the political thriller House of Cards tweeted:

Australians are used to politicians turning the tables -- the country has had five prime ministers in five years.

There was Kevin Rudd in 2007, then Julia Gillard rolled him three years later. But Mr Rudd got his revenge and was back in 2013.

Tony Abbott was elected that same year, only to be ousted by Malcolm Turnbull last year.

"The Turnbull government is seeking election fundamentally on the record of the Abbott government," Mr Abbot says.

But Mr Turnbull says voters will be looking to the future not the past as they head to the polls -- which could be sooner rather than later.