Parliament to resume under COVID-19 limits

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Federal parliament resumes on Tuesday with about a third of all MPs not coming to Canberra after weighing up advice on COVID-19.

The House of Representatives and Senate will sit for four out of the next five weeks, as the lockdown of Sydney and surrounding regions continues but other parts of the country lift restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will exit two weeks of quarantine at The Lodge early next week, while Labor leader Anthony Albanese has based himself in Canberra which allowed him to travel interstate.

It is expected about 100 MPs, and 45 to 50 senators, will be present while others will videolink in for Question Time and other business.

Parliament House itself is closed to the public and will have limited numbers of staff and officials present, with anyone moving around the building encouraged to wear a mask, physically distance and sanitise.

A senior Labor source said the tone of the parliamentary session would be different to June in that there was a “deep-seated frustration” with the government over the slow rate of vaccinations, no improvements in the quarantine system, and a downturn in the economy impacting on workers and businesses.

On Thursday, the prime minister will deliver a statement on the Closing the Gap implementation plan – a strategy to improve the health and social prospects of Indigenous Australians.

The government will seek to question Labor’s new-found support for a third tranche of income tax cuts and the ditching of the opposition’s long-held policy on reforming negative gearing of property.

Climate remains a hot topic as the government has not yet committed to a policy of net zero emissions by 2050.

There are only two more sitting weeks after August before the November UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow where nations will be asked to lift their ambition.

The Senate will next week deal with bills on university reform, financial advice, child care, education services for overseas students and the national commissioner for defence and veteran suicide.

Over the coming week there will be inquiry reports into media diversity, foreign investment and sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

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