Double dissolution elections are talked about in the media. What are they and how do they differ from normal elections?
Wikipedia states that since Australia has both a Senate and a House of Representatives, an election can be called if the two houses deadlock over a piece of legislation.
Normally only six of the twelve seats for each state in the Senate are up for election. In a double dissolution election, all twelve seats are contested.
A double dissolution is a procedure permitted under the Australian Constitution to resolve deadlocks between the House of Representatives and the Senate. If the conditions (called a trigger) are satisfied, the Government can request the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of Parliament and call a full election. If, after the election, the legislation that triggered the double dissolution is still not passed by the two houses, then a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament can be called to vote on the legislation. If the legislation is passed by the joint sitting, then the legislation is deemed to have passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. A double dissolution is the only circumstance in which the entire Senate can be dissolved.
Although it’s not a word that’s really used much in real life — dissolution — in a parliamentary sense, simply means to dissolve a house of parliament. That’s what happens when it’s time for an election and the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, dissolves the House of Representatives, usually at the end of its three-year term.
A double-dissolution means dissolving both the upper and lower house, essentially ending the reign of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and vacating each of those parliamentary representative’s positions.