National

‘Big stick’ energy laws on Senate agenda

By AAP Newswire

New laws to ensure energy companies keep a lid on prices and don't engage in misconduct are set to pass parliament next week.

The Senate will sit from Monday for four days, but members of the House of Representatives won't meet until November 25 - the final sitting fortnight of the year.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the so-called "big stick" legislation was a priority for early next week.

A Senate committee on Thursday gave the bill the nod of approval to pass, but it warned of the need for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to clear up uncertainty over definitions and the operation of the law.

The committee's inquiry was warned any uncertainty could drive up power prices and jeopardise plans by energy companies to innovate.

The Greens don't want the bill to pass, but will attempt to change it so the powers can't be used to delay the closure of coal-fired power stations.

The government is also aiming to pass draft laws expanding Farm Household Allowance arrangements - part of its response to the drought - and protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

While controversial bills to deal with union misconduct and repeal the "medevac" process for asylum seekers are not listed on the program, the government is negotiating with the cross bench on passing these.

Asked about the medevac repeal bill, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Friday: "We will be moving on that legislation as soon as we practically can."

Labor will seek the parliament's support for an inquiry into wage theft, while the opposition will also side with One Nation to task the competition watchdog to assess a minimum farm gate milk price and to make recommendations on the best design options.