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Senate focus for week of parliament

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Legal action against two senators is set to dominate the start of a week of federal parliament.

A two-week break has seen Family First senator Bob Day resign to deal with the fallout from his construction company collapse, and the government revealing advice casting a cloud over One Nation senator Rod Culleton's election.

Senate President Stephen Parry will address the chamber on Monday, outlining the reasons behind the referral of Mr Day and Senator Culleton to the High Court, which will sit as the Court of Disputed Returns.

Mr Day's election will be challenged on the grounds a leasing deal over his electorate office in Adelaide gave him a "potential indirect pecuniary interest in a contract with the commonwealth", which would disqualify him under the constitution from running for office.

Senator Culleton's election is being challenged on the grounds he had a conviction for larceny - since annulled - against him at the time he ran for parliament.

Under the constitution a person who has been convicted of an offence punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for one year or longer is "incapable of being chosen" as a senator.

Victorian senator Kimberley Kitching will be sworn in to replace former Labor minister Stephen Conroy.

Proceedings will be suspended to hear a speech from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is in Canberra for talks on trade, investment and security with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The first bill to be considered in the Senate on Monday will be enabling laws for the same-sex marriage plebiscite, which is expected to fail.

With an amended "backpacker tax" bill also before the Senate, Mr Turnbull called on senators to ensure the lower 19 per cent rate applies to backpackers' earnings up to $37,000 from January 1.

"If the government's changes are not supported by the Senate, most working holiday makers will be paying 32.5 per cent tax from the first dollar earned in Australia," he told LAFM radio on Friday.

The government will get Labor's support for its budget appropriation bills and counter-terrorism laws.

But a controversial move by Attorney-General George Brandis to block the solicitor-general from advising ministers without his permission is set to be voted down via a disallowance motion from Labor.

The lower house will deal with a number of uncontroversial government bills dealing with television and radio licence fees and foreign ownership of agricultural land.

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