Drought, radicals on parliamentary agenda

The coalition will pressure Labor to back laws for a drought-proofing fund in federal parliament.
The coalition will pressure Labor to back laws for a drought-proofing fund in federal parliament.

As Australian politicians return to Canberra for their first full sitting fortnight since the May election, there is supposed to be a new level of decorum, apparently.

Labor frontbencher Linda Burney says her leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Minister agree the public expects their politicians to conduct themselves with "grace and dignity".

"Most of the time in the parliament, people are debating very respectfully, but it does get rowdy and it can get excitable. We need to be very conscious of what is the expectation of the public," Ms Burney told ABC television.

However, scheduled government legislation will likely put such civility to the test.

On Monday, the government will reintroduce a bid to set up a Future Drought Fund with $3.9 billion for drought-proofing projects.

The fund has already been knocked down once by Labor, which takes issue with the government's plan to take cash for it away from an existing infrastructure kitty.

"Provide the funding - with appropriations, as you should - and we'll back it," Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told the prime minister, and a large audience, at a bush summit last week.

Scott Morrison argues his government has a $100 billion infrastructure plan and no one will miss out if this money is shunted around.

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale also warns the fund gives $100 million to the National Party to funnel money to "its big corporate irrigator mates".

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is also heaping pressure on Labor to back new laws that would block Australians who have been fighting with terror groups overseas from returning home for two years.

Reports on Sunday said 40 foreign fighters have already returned after participating in extremist military groups.

"It is important that we proceed to the temporary exclusion orders," Industry and Science Minister Karen Andrews told Sky News.

"Our number priority as a government ... is to keep its citizens safe."

But Centre Alliance, which holds two crossbench votes in the Senate, says it still holds serious concerns about the laws and they need further parliamentary scrutiny.

"No one should be rushing to pass flawed legislation, especially when the bill deals with national security and fundamental rights of Australian citizens," the party's Rex Patrick said on Friday.

The government also wants to pass laws to deal with farm invaders and those deemed to be encouraging such actions - like the protests seen earlier this year - which could result in up to five years imprisonment.

But Senator Di Natale says there are already laws to deal with such crimes.

"The concern here is that we've seen this government take us closer to a police state with passage of a range of laws that hand over more power to authorities with a whole range of unintended consequences," he told ABC television.

Australia's treatment of refugees is likely to be in the spotlight, with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape visiting this week.

He has demanded a deadline for the end of the offshore processing on Manus Island after six years, and his government has also taken issue with Australia's handling of contracts in the immigration centres.

He'll meet Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese on Monday.

Australian Associated Press