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The week to come in federal parliament

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016

THE WEEK AHEAD IN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT

Both the House of Reps and Senate sit this week and next - the final time in 2017.

* The Senate is scheduled to debate government legislation restoring the building and construction industry watchdog

* The High Court prepares to hear a challenge against the eligibility of One Nation senator Rod Culleton and former Family First senator Bob Day to contest the July 2 election

WHILE THEY WERE AWAY

* The government announced a deal with the US to take refugees and asylum seekers now on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea

* Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in Lima for talks with other Asia-Pacific leaders, amid the spectre of a Donald Trump presidency

* Labor ramped up its campaign for changes to 457 foreign workers visa program as it took a cue from Trump's election, and as the government reduced the amount of time foreign workers can stay in Australia following their employment

* Senior Labor figures differed on the future of the US alliance after foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong pushed for a considered recalibration of Australia's approach

* Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs was told she won't be reappointed to the job after her five-year term expires next year

* Official Medicare figures showed a drop-off in bulk-billing since the coalition was re-elected on July 2, with its unpopular policy to continue the GP rebate freeze until 2020.

WHATS ON THE AGENDA

* House of Reps: MPs debate private bill to legalise same-sex marraige; changes to family assistance; transition of mobility allowance to the NDIS (Monday); superannuation changes; counter-terrorism measures; organ and tissue donations; the Youth Jobs Path: Prepare, Trial, Hire program (Tuesday); changes to war crimes laws; civil nuclear transfers to India; country of origin labelling changes (Wednesday); superannuation changes; simplifying student payments (Thursday).

* Senate: Senators debate overhaul of the vocational education and training loans scheme; changes to war crimes laws; register of foreign ownership of farmland (Monday); restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission (Tuesday); changes to superannuation tax concessions; backpacker tax (Wednesday); changes to family assistance (Thursday).

* Elsewhere: The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, holds a directions hearing into the Culleton-Day case (Monday); Senate inquiry hearings into medical complaints process (Tuesday); airport and aviation security (Thursday). Reps inquiry hearing into management of flying foxes (Thursday). Budget estimates hearing into national broadband network (Friday).

COMPETING ARGUMENTS

* What the coalition wants to spin: Australians need to accept economic reform and be more open to trade that may create winners and losers in the short term, but deliver gains in the long term.

* What Labor wants to pursue: More jobs for Australians and not foreign workers.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"We risk becoming victims of our own economic success. This needs to change." The PM

"I believe in an Australia where the rising tide should lift all boats, not just the yachts." Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

"It will be a critical fortnight, indeed it will be potentially a historic fortnight," Attorney-General George Brandis.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT

With two weeks left before the long summer break, the government has a raft of bills it wants to clear parliament's upper house.

BUILDING INDUSTRY WATCHDOG: The government is finally putting up its legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission - one of the industrial relations bills Malcolm Turnbull used to trigger the July 2 double-dissolution election. It follows weeks of uncertainty after the government refused to say whether the legislation would be put on the Senate's agenda before the end of the year and Turnbull insisted he wouldn't put it up until he was sure he had the numbers. With Labor and the Greens opposed, and several crossbenchers keeping their cards close to their chest, it's unclear whether it will fail again. If it does, the government can put the bill before a joint sitting of both houses of parliament.

REGISTERED ORGANISATIONS: The other industrial relations bill Turnbull used to trigger the double-dissolution election is up first thing on Monday morning. It establishes a new Registered Organisations Commission to oversee unions and their officials. Labor and the Greens oppose this one too, but it looks like the government may secure crossbench support.

SUPERANNUATION: The government's new superannuation package - amended after a backlash from its own backbenchers - is set to come up on Wednesday, when a Senate inquiry is due to report back. Individuals with a super balance of more than $1.6 million will no longer be eligible to make after-tax contributions, while non-concessional super contributions will be limited to $100,000 per year from July 1, 2017 compared to $180,000 now. Labor supports parts of the package and will seek to make amendments.

BACKPACKER TAX: After 18 months of to-ing and fro-ing, the uncertainty over this controversial tax looks set to continue with the government unlikely to get legislation through the Senate without amendments. The government first proposed a 32.5 per cent tax rate in its 2015 budget but announced during the election campaign it was putting that on ice pending a review. It's come back with 19 per cent but Labor, Greens and cross benchers want 10.5 per cent.

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