Abbott, Shorten attend Mandela memorial

Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten will leave Warren Truss and Tanya Plibersek to lead in question time for much of this week. AAP/Alan Porritt

Prime Minister Tony Abbott tonight has made a fresh but futile plea to the Senate to repeal the carbon and mining taxes this week, ahead of departing to attend Tuesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

Abbott leaves tomorrow morning, accompanied by opposition leader Bill Shorten. Returning late Wednesday, they will miss much of what is scheduled to be Parliament’s last week for the year.

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss and acting opposition leader Tanya Plibersek will face off in the House of Representatives.

In a video, Abbott said that December “is the time to deal with unfinished business – and to clear the decks for a good start to the new year”.

He repeated that scrapping the carbon tax would save average Australian families $550 a year, while abolishing the mining tax “will help with everyone’s job security by making Australia a more attractive place to do business.

"So I call on the Senate to do the right thing this week and scrap Labor’s bad taxes to give our economy the clean start it needs for 2014. That’s the best way to help Australian families and protect jobs.”

But Labor and the Greens are committed to stopping the repeals while they retain a blocking power in the Senate.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen today defended Labor’s opposing a raft of legislation by saying it was staying true to its values.

“Our values tell us that a price on carbon is necessary. … The carbon price brought down emissions at the same time as 150,000 jobs were created. Our experience tells us that and our values tell us that should continue. Our values tell us that it is right that the mining industry has a profits based tax,” Bowen told Sky TV. It was true that more people had voted Liberal but when people voted Labor “they expect us to stay true to our values and we will be doing that.”

Abbott yesterday invited Shorten to accompany him to South Africa.