The Victorian Greens have called for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to ensure ongoing oversight of the Andrews Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the Government exercising extraordinary powers and making significant expenditure on a near-daily basis, it is important that there continues to be some form of parliamentary scrutiny.
The Greens have written to the leaders of the upper and lower houses to appeal for the establishment of a committee if the Government intends to suspend parliament indefinitely following a special one-day sitting next week to pass urgent legislation.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said in times of crisis like this parliamentary democracy remained crucial and should not be a casualty of the pandemic.
The parliamentary committee would be similar to that recently established in New Zealand for the same purpose and could be established when the Victorian parliament resumes to pass important COVID-19 legislation in the coming days.
As stated by Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“We appreciate that the Government has been faced with difficult decisions on a daily basis and welcome the actions they have taken so far to protect the Victorian community.
“But that shouldn’t come at the expense of democracy. With Parliament suspended indefinitely it is important that the extraordinary powers currently being exercised by the Government are afforded proper scrutiny.
“Ideally we want to see parliament continue to sit regularly during the pandemic in a safe form, like online. However, if online parliament is unable to be established quickly, in the absence of regular parliament a scrutiny committee is essential.
“That’s why we’re calling for a new parliamentary committee, to keep a close eye on the rapidly growing number of decisions made by the Government during this state of emergency.”