30 March, 2020
In light of the extraordinary circumstances created by the Covid 19 outbreak, the Commonwealth Parliament is obviously not able to proceed with its regular sitting calendar. We were due to sit in May and then again in June before breaking in July and returning in August.
I supported a realistic sitting timetable for Parliament in the circumstances and a motion to vary standing orders which dictate how parliament sits. This will enable MPs to consider further emergency measures when needed as appropriate. In summary, it is easier to reconvene the Parliament for an emergency sitting if required than it is to have to abandon a sitting week that had previously been agreed to.
In regards to National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) that has been set up to advise the Government, its focus will be on logistics and the supply of essential goods, as well as opportunities for staff re employment, etc.
There is no blueprint for a situation like this and everyone is working hard on finding solutions. I have urged the Government to be more consultative with the opposition to ensure bipartisanship on decisions but it is their call and they will ultimately wear responsibility for the outcomes of their decisions. Like many other MPs I am sure, my staff and I are focused on helping our communities, people stuck overseas, the sick, the unemployed or small business owners now having to close down their trade.
I thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns but I assure you that my commitment to democracy and the Parliamentary process is as strong as ever.