AS MPs head back to Canberra after the winter recess, a new opinion poll shows the coalition remains behind in opinion polls and Tony Abbott is lagging behind Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister.

A ReachTEL poll conducted for Fairfax Media on Sunday finds Labor leading the government 53 per cent to 47 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

Mr Shorten also leads Mr Abbott 58.5 per cent to 41.5 per cent as preferred prime minister.

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The embattled Prime Minister this morning appeared on the Nine Network, again defending entitlements claims by his ministers as Federal MPs jet back into the nation’s capital.

Parliamentarians are making the journey back to Canberra after a six-week winter break that was dominated by a row over expenses, kicked off by Bronwyn Bishop’s infamous helicopter charter.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey refused on Saturday to buy into the appropriateness of family reunion travel, which will be looked at by a panel reviewing the rules.

Labor has put its support behind the inquiry, which features its retired speaker Harry Jenkins as well as former opposition leader Brendan Nelson.

Ms Bishop’s replacement in the Speaker’s chair will be decided on Monday morning following her resignation This morning, Mr Abbott addressed reports that Treasurer Joe Hockey charged taxpayers $14,000 to fly his family to Perth. Asked about the expense, Mr Abbott said there are things which have been inside the rules, but they have been outside community expectations.

“The point that I’m making is that the sorts of things that would be inappropriate for people in business should likewise be not something that members of parliament do,” he told the Nine Network.

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