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Chaos awaits Albo as parliament resumes

QUESTION TIME
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will return home to domestic chaos when Parliament resumes on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

After being absent for much of last week to focus on the world stage, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has returned home to deal with domestic chaos on Monday.

While he was focused on summits, bilateral meetings and partnerships, back in Canberra his government came under fire for running a “protection racket” for Qantas.

The Coalition have threatened to round out the parliamentary sitting fortnight with more questions about Transport Minister Catherine King’s decision to block Qatar’s bid for more flights, and Mr Albanese’s knowledge surrounding it.

Meanwhile, against a backdrop of faltering support for the Voice, with just under five weeks to go, the final bureaucratic hurdle before the Voice referendum will be dealt with on Monday.

The writs for the referendum will be issued by the Governor-General on Monday; and despite Peter Dutton’s plea for Mr Albanese to scrap the Voice and ask instead for recognition on October 14, the Prime Minister is set to remain defiant. as the Yes campaign further ramps up their campaigning this week.

QUESTION TIME
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be back at the dispatch box on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The Coalition are also set to use Question Time this week to further probe Ms King about her decision to block Qatar’s bid to nearly double its flight offerings to Australia.

Mr Dutton on Friday said the Coalition had “more questions than answers” after Ms King failed to tell parliament why she made the decision, and who she consulted with.

It was revealed last week that Ms King had signed off on the decision on July 10 – while Mr Albanese was out of the country – and that he was made aware “sometime” before the matter was made public on July 18.

Her cabinet colleagues have backed her in, saying it was within her purview to make such a decision and it didn’t need the Prime Minister’s say-so.

But a newly-established inquiry – chaired by Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie – will start to take submissions this week; and the Coalition hopes to uncover whether former Qantas boss Alan Joyce was able to whisper in the government’s ear.

Senator McKenzie on Sunday said without any clear answers from Ms King or the government, it appeared as though Labor was simply protecting Qantas.

QUESTION TIME
Mr Albanese was absent for the second half of last week. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“She can’t tell us who she consulted with. She’s refusing to answer those questions in Question Time,” Senator McKenzie told Sky News.

After revealing he had not been consulted on the decision, Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles backed in Ms King further on Sunday, saying it was entirely normal for her to make the call.

“There are certain decisions in government which are cabinet decisions, certain that you would expect to go right around the cabinet, and some that are in the in the sovereignty – if you like – of a specific minister, and this is one of those,” he told Sky.

“We are running a serious cabinet which allows ministers to do their job and to make the decisions which are within their responsibility. And this is a decision that was in within the Transport Minister’s responsibility.”

QUESTION TIME
Question Time is likely to get fiery this week. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

While they’re set to come under fire in Question Time each day, the government intends to spend the rest of the sitting week working to get legislation through the houses.

Mr Albanese’s cornerstone industrial relations reforms were dealt a blow in his absence, with a vote on the contentious Closing Loopholes legislation now delayed until next year, however debate will continue in the House of Representatives.

First up in the Senate on Monday, debate on the Family Law Amendment Bill will also begin, after the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee wrapped up its inquiry.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General said the government would “move amendments in line with the committee’s recommendations and to further strengthen and clarify the provisions in the Bill”.

The Bill seeks to return the best interests of the child as the central focus of the family law system.

The Senate will also debate legislation to further improve the culture of Parliament House.