Most school kids headed off for their first day back last week, but it’s today that MPs across the nation dust off their suitcases and pull on their blazers for the return to parliament. The first sitting will consist only of condolences for the recent natural disasters across Australia, but thanks to the flood levy it’ll be a busy few weeks ahead for politicians.

The flood levy is proving a popular concept in the polls, but Gillard will have to negotiate with the Independents and the Greens, since Tony Abbott is already declaring it the next “great big new tax” and the Independents suggested a permanent disaster fund.

Tony Abbott is facing his own struggles internally within the Liberal Party, with fights over what programs should be cut to fund an alternative to the flood levy.

Here’s a preview of what you can look forward to over the coming weeks:

The Australian

Tight timeframes squeeze Labor reforms by Siobhain Ryan

“The fate of Julia Gillard’s ‘year of delivery’ could be decided within six months, with five crucial bills, two climate change reports, a federal budget and a tax summit competing for government attention before June 30.”

Cyclonic stoush unworthy of tiny tax by Niki Savva

“Tony Abbott has no compelling reason to oppose Julia Gillard’s tiny new tax, even though she has no compelling reason to impose it. It is such a piddling little tax, it is really not worth fighting over.”

The Age

Lib row on budget cuts by Michelle Grattan

“Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop has fought off a proposal by Tony Abbott for a $373 million cut in foreign aid to Africa, as internal Liberal division flares over the flood levy strategy.”

The Courier-Mail

Two votes vital to shore up PM’s plan by Dennis Atkins

“Julia Gillard might have successfully whacked one flood levy shark back in its hole on Monday by creating a body to scrutinise reconstruction, but getting the tax law amendments through the Senate is not assured. While most attention has been on the Independents and Greens in the House of Representatives, the position of Senators Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon will be possibly even more fascinating.”

The Punch

Even Julia doesn’t trust herself with public money by Malcolm Farr

“So the Prime Minister has brought in some extra protection — a few new strata of bureaucracy to catch spending stuff-ups before they become billion dollar embarrassments. And how better to prevent Liberal attacks on spending measures than to appoint a Liberal to second-guess every spending decision.

That’s why John Fahey, former Liberal NSW premier and federal Finance Minister, was called in to stack the extra stack of bureaucrats who will keep an eye on flood and cyclone reconstruction funding.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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