Morrison must let Parliament act as watchdog during crisis

The great parliaments of the world have often shown their mettle by continuing to conduct business during a crisis. During the Blitz of World War II, after German bombs put a hole in the House of Commons, British MPs found a new home within two days.

The Morrison government should take the British example to heart in the debate over whether the federal Parliament of Australia will continue to sit through the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has taken the view that Parliament should sit as little as possible in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to MPs and their staff.

On that basis, the Coalition adjourned Parliament two weeks ago until August 11, a recess of four months. It has been forced to recall a scaled-back group of MPs next week to pass its $130 billion third stimulus package but only for one day. MPs will be sent back home after that.

It is true there are practical problems in convening a normal sitting of Parliament during a pandemic. At least four MPs, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, have already contracted the disease.


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