Crikey is bracing for one of the biggest weeks in federal politics in years as the government faces crucial votes on the offshore processing of asylum seekers and the carbon tax.

Pollies, presumably refreshed after today’s ACT “family and community day” sojourn, will be keen to pick up the cudgels in the third-last official sitting week before the end of the year. Kicking off tomorrow afternoon’s government business in the Senate is the Student Services and Amenities Bill, a talismanic issue among Coalition MPs who remain keen to starve student unions of funding to exact revenge for 25-year-old disputes with campus socialists.

In the House, in what is looming as “Carbon Tuesday”, the government will almost certainly shepherd 18 pieces of legislation through successfully, despite a last-ditch, possibly Coalition-coordinated, public relations effort from dubious front groups like “Manufacturing Australia” and the Australian Coal Association to influence opinion (two years ago Manufacturing Australia chief Dick Warburton was a backer of a carbon tax but now appears to have changed his tune).

But while a price on carbon seems like a sealed deal, the government’s High Court-dodging amendments to the Migration Act will most likely be rejected by WA National Tony Crook on Thursday, denying the government a token win in the House of Reps ahead of ultimate rejection in the Senate and leading to new calls from Tony Abbott for a fresh election on constitutional-crisis grounds.

The last time a federal government lost a bill in the House of Representatives was more than 80 years ago.

Also on Thursday, debate will resume on the Territories Self-Government Legislation Amendment bill designed to overturn Cabinet’s arbitrary veto on NT and ACT lawmakers. The Labor-dominated standing committee on social policy and legal affairs recommended the House give it the green light.

Elsewhere, Wednesday in the Senate will see the government’s invasive Cybercrime legislation back on the agenda, with the Greens hoping to derail elements of the bill which will see ISPs vigorously recording details of their clients’ internet usage.

The Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill, which is expected to easily pass with the backing of the Coalition and Greens, will also get a guernsey. And on Thursday the Senate will “consider” Tony Abbott’s defunct Carbon Tax Plebiscite bill alongside a grab-bag of non-controversial bills that make up the vast majority of government business.

Andrew Crook will be covering federal parliament this week and seeks Crikey readers’ tips and input on what should be on our radar (email [email protected]). Interested in the passage of a particular piece of legislation? Check out this week’s legislative agenda — the House of Reps here and the Senate here. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in the contents of the parliamentary canteen’s bain maries, Crook is taking requests.

Peter Fray

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