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Parties to come out (in)fighting as Parliament resumes

Angry backbenchers are waiting for Tony Abbott, pictured, and Julia Gillard, when Parliament resumes.

Angry backbenchers are waiting for Tony Abbott, pictured, and Julia Gillard, when Parliament resumes. Photo: Michel O'Sullivan

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will face off against angry backbenchers in their respective party room meetings when federal Parliament resumes today.

Left Labor MPs led by Doug Cameron will attempt to stop the government pushing 100,000 single mothers off parenting payments and onto the dole.

While the caucus debates the move, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) will lead a rally outside Parliament House protesting it.

Mr Abbott is putting pressure on West Australian Liberals to accept the Coalition's decision to oppose the government's plan to deregulate the wheat industry.

Several Coalition MPs have said they will cross the floor or abstain from a vote on the legislation.

Some Liberal MPs are privately furious shadow cabinet's anti-deregulation stance has sparked ''so much grief'' and gone against the Liberals' free enterprise philosophy.

However, they do not want to signal they would cross the floor if the government bill was set to fail.

The government has listed the wheat bill for debate today in an attempt to highlight the split in the Coalition but fears the opposition will filibuster the bill to delay a vote. Mr Abbott said the Coalition would not change its position.

''We've made a judgment call and I'm confident that we'll stick with the judgment call that we've made,'' he said.

The government says Mr Abbott remains ''fair game'' in Parliament for his attitude towards women and for its claim he created the culture for Alan Jones to denigrate the Prime Minister. Labor has tried to shift blame onto Mr Abbott for Jones's claim Ms Gillard's father ''died in shame'' over his daughter.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has suggested Labor's ''handbag hit squad'' would not go soft on Mr Abbott despite the rare public plea by his wife Margie to stop accusing her husband of being anti-women.

The Gillard government will also renew its attacks on Mr Abbott for comparing the Australian economy to Europe's plight.

Queensland Liberal senator Sue Boyce confirmed her retirement from politics yesterday and criticised her own party for failing to attract enough women to Parliament.

She also warned the Coalition was in danger of being overtaken by social conservatives.

She said she did not believe Mr Abbott had a problem with women but the polls showed the Labor campaign was having an effect.

Senator Boyce said encouraging more women into the party was crucial but she did not support quotas.

''I'd like to suggest a target of 30 per cent within 10 years and some KPIs along the way to see that we are actually achieving that,'' she said.

In Melbourne with Liberal Kelly O'Dwyer, Mr Abbott said attracting more women to the Liberal Party was important.

''I'm very confident that we'll have more after the next election,'' he said.

The legislation on parenting payments is expected to be debated in the Senate today. Two parliamentary committees have recommended deferring the measures until finalisation of an inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart.

ACOSS says single parents will be $60 to $100 worse off per week under the changes, and National Council of Single Mothers and their Children chief executive Terese Edwards said the payment cuts could result in single mothers becoming homeless.

Senator Cameron expects a strong debate in today's caucus meeting.

''This is an issue many members have concerns about,'' he said.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the government was trying to balance its books on the backs of the poor.

''They simply don't care about these families,'' she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Abbott confirmed the Coalition would spend $50 million to help states and territories install closed circuit television cameras.

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