In the middle of this unprecedented health and economic crisis, it is critical we do not let a crisis in our democracy emerge as well.
When Federal Parliament is recalled next Wednesday, we urge for the establishment of a multi-party select committee to enable scrutiny of the various Government programs dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
Such a body has already been established in New Zealand to help fill the accountability gap. Known as the Epidemic Response Committee, it is an all-party special select committee with similarly broad powers as those of a Privileges Committee regarding calling witnesses and the provision of documents. The select committee was set up by consensus with all parties represented, and hearings are publicly broadcast.
Like Australia, New Zealand has shut down its Parliament due to COVID-19. However, NZ has found a non-partisan alternative to maintain accountability.
This is our chance: the Government has announced that Parliament will sit again next Wednesday, potentially for just one day. This is our opportunity to put in place proper parliamentary scrutiny.
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To the Australian Parliament --
When Federal Parliament is recalled, we urge you to immediately establish a New-Zealand style multi-partisan select committee to enable the proper accountability and scrutiny of the Government decisions and programs in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.