Bill Shorten says the government is threatening an early election to cover up for a lack of an economic plan.
Coalition strategists are weighing up whether to use the blocking of workplace laws in the Senate as a double-dissolution election trigger.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said on Friday an early poll remained a “live option”.
Mr Pyne said the opposition was not only blocking laws to clamp down on union corruption, but $30 billion in budget savings which were needed to address the former Labor government’s mismanagement.
But the opposition leader said government members were like magicians trying to make voters look somewhere other than where the trick is taking place.
“They need to stop threatening the Australian people with the threat of early elections, just to cover up their lack of action on the economy of Australia,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.
The latest a double-dissolution election could be called is May 11, the day after the budget is delivered.
Mr Shorten said voters wanted to know what the government planned to do on tax reform, school and hospital funding, tackling climate change and providing jobs.
“I and Labor do not intend just to run a happy second – what we will do between now and the election (is) try our hardest not only to be a strong opposition but to be a strong alternative government,” he added.
Senior Labor figure Anthony Albanese said the Liberal leadership change in September had achieved nothing.
“The whole of Australia was pleased when we got rid of ‘Mr Angry’ and we got ‘Mr Smiley’,” Mr Albanese told the Nine Network.
“Now we know that what we’ve got is Mr Waffle.”
Treasurer Scott Morrison said the government’s plan for jobs, economic growth and tax relief would be outlined in the May budget.
“The budget is in May, the election is later in the year,” Mr Morrison told 3AW radio.
“The budget will be there … for everyone to see and the election will be held after the budget and that gives everyone the opportunity to have their say.”
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said his party was ready for the election.