News National Condolences and climate: Bushfires to dominate as Parliament gets back to work

Condolences and climate: Bushfires to dominate as Parliament gets back to work

This fire, burning near Canberra, should help parliament focus on the threat at hand. Photo: RFS
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Australia’s politicians will use the first parliamentary sitting day of the year to pay tribute to the victims of the devastating bushfire crisis.

Federal parliament returns on Tuesday with the entire day to be dedicated to condolences after more than 30 people died during the horror fire season.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will attend a traditional church service during the morning.

Legislation to make bushfire relief payments and loss-of-income grants for volunteer firefighters is set to be rushed through both houses by the end of the week.

That includes grants for businesses and farmers, as well as disaster recovery allowance payments.

A fire continues to burn in the ACT’s Namadgi National Park, making it likely thick smoke will provide the backdrop as MPs and senators return to Canberra.

farmers drought fund
This drought-ravaged farmer might finally get an answer from the PM. Photo: Instagram

The government is also trying to put out political fires with a pair of cabinet ministers feeling the heat.

The Labor, Greens and the Senate crossbench are expected to pursue an inquiry into the $100 million sports grants rort even if Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie has resigned from the cabinet over the scandal before the upper house convenes.

Senator McKenzie, the Nationals deputy leader, may also have to stare down internal tensions during a partyroom meeting on Monday.

Labor will also be keen to reapply the blowtorch to Energy Minister Angus Taylor over doctored documents used to attack Sydney’s mayor.

Bernardi’s replacement

Meanwhile, President of South Australia’s Legislative Council Andrew McLachlan will be sworn in as a new Liberal senator to replace Cory Bernardi after his preselection this weekend.

Andrew McLachlan will fill Cory Bernardi’s shoes in the Senate. Photo: ABC

The Senate is expected to deal with legislation to crack down on illegal phoenix activity on Wednesday.

Bills giving the vocational education and training regulator more powers and relaxing rules for financial technology companies to test products are also on the upper house’s agenda.

On Thursday, the government hopes to make four more recommendations from the banking royal commission law.

The latest response to the inquiry includes extending unfair contract terms to insurance contracts, and ensuring consumer protection applies to funeral expense policies.

Under the bill, mortgage broker pay will be linked to the amount drawn down by borrowers rather than loan values.

Brokers will also have a duty to put consumers’ interests first.