The Australian Parliament should set up a cross-parliamentary committee to oversee the government’s pandemic and ensure democratic checks and balances are maintained, Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP said today.
The Greens Leader has written to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, as well as crossbench MPs and Senators, to request the formation of a Joint Select Committee at next week’s sitting of Parliament.
“We need more democracy during this crisis, not less,” said Mr Bandt.
“This pandemic is perhaps the greatest challenge Australia ever has faced on its home turf. Now is not the time to be putting democracy on hold.
“The Greens want parliament to resume and sit through this crisis, potentially online, as far as the health advice permits.
“The government has cancelled Parliament, but that’s no excuse for rule by decree.
“The Greens’ pressure in Parliament has already contributed to students getting increased payments and wages guarantees being legislated, and with continued oversight we can ensure even more people are helped and no-one is left behind.
“A Joint Select Committee will help us make sure the government’s response is fit for purpose and meets the challenge before of us.
“A similar approach has been set up to oversee New Zealand through its lockdown. It needs to be cross-parliamentary and powerful, while not diverting resources that are needed to tackle the pandemic.
“We’ll only get through this crisis if we work together, but too many people have still been left behind by the government’s stimulus package. Casual workers in new roles and migrant workers won’t get a cent of the $130 billion Scott Morrison is offering businesses.
“Given the eye-watering amounts of public money being spent, the major changes to Australian law and people’s lives, as well as the potential for unintended consequences, it’s vital that we have an opportunity to scrutinise the government’s actions.”
A copy of the letter is attached.