PM moves election goal posts to 'later' in 2016

MALCOLM Turnbull has moved the goal posts on an election date, saying it will be held in "the latter part of the year", as speculation mounts he will call a double dissolution poll.

The Prime Minister made the comment in South Australia yesterday after saying he did not want to discourage talk of a possible early election.

The change in rhetoric follows his earlier statements that the election would be held in "August, September or October", and leaves the door open to a double dissolution poll in July.

A double dissolution cannot occur within six months of the end of a three-year term of the House of Representatives, meaning Mr Turnbull will have to act by May 11 if he wants elections for the full membership of both Houses.

Senior ministers have said the government may bring the budget forward by a week, from May 10 to May 3, which would allow supply bills to be passed before the government calls a double dissolution election for July.

While Mr Turnbull already has two triggers for a double dissolution, it appears the government would prefer to use proposed laws to reinstate a building industry watchdog - a recommendation of the royal commission into trade unions.

Nationals Senator John Williams told ABC Radio if the Senate rejected the building watchdog laws, Mr Turnbull would have "no option" but to call a double dissolution election.

Government frontbencher Peter Dutton told 2SM Radio he believed an election could be held any time between now and September.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said talk of an early election was "another effort by Malcolm Turnbull to distract people from his lack of an economic plan".