PARLIAMENT IS NOT LESS IMPORTANT THAN BUNNINGS

Sustainable Australia MP Clifford Hayes has urged the Victorian Government to set a date for the resumption of Parliament, questioning why hairdressers and hardware stores take precedence over vital legislative reform. “It is not good enough for Parliament to have a one day wonder this week, pass a Bill which gives Ministers sweeping powers of regulation, then go into indefinite hibernation”. “The Victorian Government has indicated that it does not plan to bring down the Budget till well into October. Given that the Budget was to be the next item of Parliamentary business, there appears a real risk that the Government wants to get away with shutting down Parliament till October.” “This is not sufficient scrutiny. The Government has and is using sweeping powers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We all understand the reason for this, and support the priority being placed on public health and safety. However that does not mean that Parliamentarians have no role to play in keeping the Executive to account, and should simply sit at home twiddling their thumbs for the next 6 months”. “For example, the Omnibus Bill gives the Government powers to make Regulations concerning the way Councils meet and the way the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal meets. I will be watching these closely to ensure we don’t end up with secret Council meetings or secret VCAT hearings – residents already have too little say in planning matters”. “Nor is this what is being done elsewhere. The Commonwealth Parliament plans to resume as early as May. Other States and Territories are maintaining their Parliamentary sitting schedule. They are able to make their Parliaments a safe working environment, and so should we”. “Moreover the Government has allowed all manner of activities to continue – building and construction, horse racing, schools, retail outlets like Bunnings. It is foreseeable that more activities will be re-opened and resumed in the coming months. In a parliamentary democracy like Victoria, Parliament is not less important than Bunnings”. “The Victorian Government should not allow Thursday’s sitting of Parliament to finish without setting a date for it to resume”.