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Budget fix top of Turnbull parliament list

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Malcolm Turnbull has declared fixing the budget as a "fundamental moral challenge" above all other priorities in the new parliament.

MPs and senators will gather in Canberra on Tuesday for the formal start of the 45th parliament, featuring an indigenous welcome and speech by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

The prime minister told a joint party room meeting his government's top priority of repairing the budget - which would be helped by the passing of a $6.5 billion savings bill to be introduced this week - was about more than economics.

"This is a fundamental moral challenge," he said.

"How long are we prepared as a nation, as a generation, to load more and more debt onto the shoulders of our children and grandchildren?"

The meeting of coalition MPs endorsed 26 bills which will deliver corporate tax cuts, media reform, raise tobacco excise, reduce tax for middle-income earners, make savings in the areas of family payments and deliver new programs for the young jobless.

However, it did not consider controversial superannuation changes.

The parliament will also be asked to back three industrial relations bills - restoring the building industry watchdog, setting up a new anti-corruption system and protecting emergency services volunteers, which Mr Turnbull described as "major elements of economic reform".

The Labor caucus voted on Monday to oppose the workplace bills and refer the volunteer-related legislation to a Senate inquiry.

Labor leader Bill Shorten told the first meeting of his full shadow ministry the opposition had presented Mr Turnbull with its own $80 billion in budget repair measures and a way forward on controversial superannuation changes.

But the prime minister's response had been to "reheat much of the failed 2014 budget".

Labor is also keen to quickly bring on a vote on a private member's bill to allow same-sex marriage, as early as this week, rather than the government's proposed plebiscite bill.

However, the coalition is sticking to its plan for a plebiscite and putting the onus back on Labor to support the national vote and deliver the Marriage Act change within the term.

"The quickest path to resolving this issue would be a vote in the parliament, and that's what we will be seeking to do in coming days and weeks," Mr Shorten said.

The opposition will also seek to force the government into setting up a royal commission into the banking sector.

Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon said he was optimistic about the parliamentary term.

"We want it to work for the sake of the country," he said.

Senator Xenophon, the Greens and Labor will be seeking a Senate inquiry into the census night computer bungle, while within Liberal ranks Cory Bernardi plans to introduce a private bill that changes hate-speech laws in the Racial Discrimination Act.

The government will hold a bare majority 76 seats in the lower house and will need to secure nine extra votes in the Senate to make its 30 seats a majority.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce warned colleagues this would require a "high degree of discipline" when it came to getting to the chamber for votes.

Labor goes into the 45th parliament with 69 lower house members and 26 senators, while the Greens have nine senators.

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