The carbon and mining taxes will take centre stage when parliament resumes, and the government is likely to play up hints of a policy shift by Labor.
A hint of a future Labor policy shift on the mining tax is likely to be pounced on by the federal government, as legislation to scrap the tariff again comes up for debate in the Senate.
The coalition’s plan to abolish the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) does not have the numbers to pass the upper house, with Labor and the Australian Greens opposing the move.
But while campaigning for the Senate election re-run in Western Australia, where there is widespread disapproval of the MRRT, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten suggested his party might be prepared to adopt a different approach down the track.
“In terms of what we do in our policies affecting the resources sector for the next election, we will engage in a dialogue with the resources sector,” Mr Shorten told Sky News this week.
With the next federal election not due until 2016, Mr Shorten said he remained committed to the principle of the tax and would block moves to have it scrapped.
The repeal legislation has already passed the lower house.
Also on the Senate agenda for Monday are bills to scrap the carbon tax.
On March 3, the first of the bills – to dismantle the independent Climate Change Authority – was rejected by the upper house.
With one down, 10 bills remain to be considered.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt will call on the Senate to pass “as a matter of priority” the remaining legislation.
He will tell the lower house the carbon tax is inflicting massive damage on the Australian economy, citing a $7.6 billion hit in its first year.
Also on Monday, colourful Queensland MP Clive Palmer is scheduled to introduce a private member’s bill to investigate establishing an emergency fund to provide speedy assistance in the event of natural disaster or industry collapse.
Mr Palmer says he has the support of other independents for the “Australian Fund”, and a parliamentary committee should further investigate its viability and report back to parliament.