Cuts to welfare, business tax on agenda

Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Welfare savings and corporate tax cuts are on the government's agenda for federal parliament next week.

However there's no chance of the Senate passing the bills as the upper house is holding budget estimates hearings all week.

The Turnbull government is keen to get its "omnibus" welfare bill and enterprise tax plan through the lower house by the end of the week, allowing the Senate to debate them at the next sittings starting on March 20.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the tax cuts are essential for making Australia more competitive with other countries also seeking to bring in more investment.

He's also determined to keep negotiating with Senate crossbenchers on the omnibus bill - designed to fund a major overhaul of child care - which faces being thoroughly picked apart in order to salvage at least some measures.

South Australian crossbencher Nick Xenophon has signalled he's not inclined to back the bill in its present form, especially after the government linked some of the savings to the national disability insurance scheme.

Senator Xenophon backs the child care reforms but doesn't believe they should be paid for by cutting family tax benefits.

On Monday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie will seek to put MP expense rorts on the agenda by introducing a private member''s bill.

He says while the government is taking action to set up a new independent body to oversee expenses, there should be also a retrospective audit of MP travel claims back to the 2013 election, disclosures should include a list of all activities undertaken on trips and the new body should report expense misuse to police.

The Greens will be seeking to introduce in coming weeks a bill to protect all penalty rates in the wake of the Fair Work Commission's decision to reduce them for retail and hospitality workers.

Labor will also take up the fight, pledging to argue the case for no cut in the FWC - as it works out how to implement its decision over coming months - and legislate if necessary.

"If they (the coalition) are not going to oppose it they should get out of the way while we fix it up," Labor leader Bill Shorten said on Friday.

Mr Turnbull and business groups have called for all parties to respect the decision of the independent umpire.

Senate estimates hearings will probe the whole operation of government, with Labor seeking answers on Australia Post executive salaries, pension and welfare cuts and the US refugee deal.