Politicians may be forced to stay away from Canberra to slow coronavirus spread


“That is simply to try and manage the normal process… as we move into the next phase which we will do today.”

There will be further measures in place for the upcoming Parliamentary sitting week that is due to begin on March 23.

“I will be working particularly with the speaker and president of the Senate, we have already been working on that for some time, about the arrangements put in place,” he said, adding he would also consult with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

“We have important work to do when Parliament resumes on Monday week and [we] will focus on that,” he said.

Parliament needs to sit in order to pass major pieces of legislation, including those directly affecting the government’s response to coronavirus such as the $17.6 billion stimulus package designed to limit the economic impacts of the virus.

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A shortened sitting week with minimum MPs present could be among the considerations. There needs to be a minimum of 19 senators in the Senate and 30 members in the House to have a quorum, or about a quarter and a fifth of those usually present respectively.

Parliamentary committees, which meet around the country, may also be affected.

There have been doubts for some time among several ministers and backbenchers over whether the next parliamentary sitting week will go ahead as normal. Precautionary measures could be introduced such as limiting Parliament House access to essential staff, excluding public visitors, and returning only for a short period to pass necessary legislation.

Labor had called for it to be brought forward but this has so far not happened.

There are also concerns about the federal Budget on May 12, which typically involves a large lock-up of politicians, media, experts and staffers.



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