Parliament weighs drought, farm invaders

Scott Morrison wants drought funding to pass quickly when parliament resumes on Monday.
Scott Morrison wants drought funding to pass quickly when parliament resumes on Monday.

Federal politicians are back in Canberra for another fortnight of sittings.

The Morrison government wants to push ahead on some of its key legislation this week, including drought funding promised to farmers last week.

On Monday, the government will reintroduce a bid to set up a Future Drought Fund with $3.9 billion for drought-proofing projects.

The fund has already been knocked down once by Labor, which takes issue with the government's plan to take cash for it away from an existing infrastructure kitty.

"Provide the funding - with appropriations, as you should - and we'll back it," Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told the prime minister, and a large audience, at a bush summit last week.

The government also wants to pass laws to deal with farm invaders and those deemed to be encouraging such actions, which could result in up to five years' imprisonment.

But Labor wants to see a final Senate committee report on the laws before it decides whether to back them.

The opposition supports the intention of the bill - to protect farmers from trespassers - but is worried it may have unintended consequences.

"Questions have been raised about the significant overlap between this bill and existing state criminal laws, and whether this bill in fact improves protections for farmers," a spokesman for Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus told The Australian.

The Greens says there are already laws to deal with such crimes.

"The concern here is that we've seen this government take us closer to a police state with passage of a range of laws that hand over more power to authorities with a whole range of unintended consequences," he told ABC Insiders on Sunday.

Meanwhile, both Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese will meet with new Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape on Monday.

Australian Associated Press