A Joint House Committee of the Victorian Parliament should be established to ensure oversight on Victoria’s response to COVID-19 while parliamentary sittings are on indefinite hold.
To save lives we will need to continue to take unprecedented action to combat the spread of COVID-19.
But, like all government initiatives, these decisions should not be taken without scrutiny.
The Committee should allow for cross-party representation to ensure the Andrews Government remains accountable to the Parliament and the Victorian public.
Similar to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) and New Zealand’s all-party select committee, the Joint House Committee will have the power to question Ministers and request documents.
To ensure the highest compliance with social distancing, the Committee should use technology available to hold meetings and hearings remotely.
Establishing such a Joint House Committee must be on the agenda when the Victorian Parliament sits to pass crucial legislation in coming days.
Comment attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:
“This unprecedented crisis will require an unprecedented response to save lives.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we’ve faced as a state – and a nation – which makes careful oversight of Government decisions even more critical.
“A Joint House Committee will give the Parliament an opportunity to ask questions to ensure our state’s response is in the best interests of all Victorians.”
Comment attributable to Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh:
“Victorians are prepared to do what needs to be done to stop the spread of COVID-19 because we know it will save lives.
“But with the indefinite shutdown of the Victorian Parliament, we must have other measures in place to ensure full transparency and accountability of Victoria’s response.”