Unity and faith in focus for parliament

Federal parliament sits this coming week for the last time in 2021.
Federal parliament sits this coming week for the last time in 2021.

Scott Morrison will be aiming for a more disciplined coalition team when parliament sits for the final time this year.

Last sitting week, seven coalition MPs and senators voted against the government on a variety of issues from an anti-corruption commission to vaccine mandates.

While Mr Morrison shrugged off the votes as letting his party "breathe", senior Liberals are concerned about another show of disunity so close to an election.

"Disunity is death, that's the first maxim of politics," Trade Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News.

"And I'm sure my colleagues understand the Australian people want to see us united and dealing with their issues, not doing things which distract us from doing that."

The prime minister won't be distracted from seeking the passage of his religious discrimination bill through the lower house.

The bill, which was promised to conservatives following the passing of same-sex marriage laws, is scheduled to be debated on Tuesday.

Labor's position will be known on Tuesday after a caucus meeting.

But even if it clears the House of Representatives its passage through the Senate is by no means guaranteed.

And it will be scrutinised by the joint parliamentary human rights committee, which has a history of pointing out the flaws in government legislation and offering amendments.

Less certain is the future of laws to force Australians to show identification at polling booths.

Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers say it will disenfranchise poor and marginalised people and Indigenous Australians.

One of the coalition MPs who crossed the floor, Queensland LNP MP George Christensen, will be back in the spotlight on Monday with a private bill seeking to free Australian journalist Julian Assange.

The government is expected to continue to face pressure over not presenting a bill to set up a federal anti-corruption commission, despite promising it at the 2019 election.

Labor has dismissed the government's accusation that the opposition is holding up the bill.

"We now have a circumstance whereby, according to the Morrison government, the only way that something can be introduced into parliament is if Labor supports it," Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.

"Well, if they want to take that attitude towards its logical conclusion, then they don't deserve to be in government this week."

Laws to crack down on anonymous abuse and bullying on social media - forcing platforms to expose the identity of individuals - will be introduced this week.

The issue of bullying and harassment in Parliament House is also expected to return to the agenda with the release of an independent review by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

Overshadowing parliament will be national accounts figures on Wednesday, which are expected to show a 2.5 per cent contraction in the economy, and the threat from the new Omicron strain of COVID-19.

A number of retiring MPs could take the opportunity to deliver their valedictories, ahead of an election due by May.

Reports are due this week from inquiries into media diversity, the Sterling Income Trust, wage ripoffs, Australia's oil and gas reserves, car park grants and the handling of the 2019-20 bushfires.

Australian Associated Press