Energy, welfare to remain centre of debate

Colin Brinsden

It's hard to imagine the mood swings on the government benches will be as extreme as they were in the first parliamentary sitting days of the year.

The loss of a Liberal senator and a further slump in opinion polls at the start of the week was only later soothed by a rousing attack on Bill Shorten by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during one fiery question time - or "hysterical rant" as the opposition leader puts it.

And some legislation was introduced as well, in what Leader of the House Christopher Pyne believes showed the government getting off to a "cracking" start to the year.

It included a complex omnibus bill with an overall aim of either cutting or reconfiguring family welfare payments while providing additional funding for child care for a net saving to the budget of over $4 billion.

That bill, along with hot topics of energy security and business tax cuts, will again likely dominate question time debate in both houses this week.

After scorching weather conditions in the south east of the country over the past week, causing blackouts in some areas, the debate over reliable sources of electricity has become just as heated.

Senior minster Arthur Sinodinos insisted in an interview with ABC television on Sunday, the government is not attacking renewables and believes there needs to be a national plan led by the commonwealth.

The protracted debate over the government's 10-year business tax plan will get another airing mid-week.

Labor doesn't look like stepping back from its opposition to the $50 billion plan, which will take the corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, despite Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe seemingly throwing his support behind the reduction last week.

Opposition frontbencher Ed Husic believes businesses will make their decisions over investment in technology independent of what the tax rates are if they have an opportunity to work "leaner, smarter, faster".

Mr Turnbull will deliver the annual 'Closing the Gap' report into indigenous health and education to parliament on Tuesday.

Among a clutch of of private members bills to kick-off the week, the opposition leader will introduce legislation on political donations which aim to increase transparency and accountability of a system that has lost the faith of Australian voters.

This includes prohibiting foreign donations and reducing the disclosure limit to a fixed $1000 from the present index-linked $13,200.

A Senate committee is due to report back on an inquiry into draft laws for the government's same-sex marriage bill, which would be triggered if a plebiscite was carried by the parliament.

The report has the potential to stir a simmering debate among some Liberals who want to see a free vote on marriage equality now after a national vote was rejected by the parliament last year.