Qld Parliament could be suspended for six months
THE Palaszczuk Government has voted to allow the Queensland parliament to be suspended for up to six months because of the threat of coronavirus, leading to outrage from the Opposition.
Leader of the House Yvette D'Ath introduced a surprise, special motion just before 10pm that gives extraordinary powers to Speaker Curtis Pitt to cancel upcoming sittings until September 17, on advice from the government.
She said it was a "reasonable amendment with a sunset clause" that would allow the parliament to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic as needed.
Leader of the Opposition Jarrod Bleije told parliament the change could mean the Labor government escaped scrutiny and accountability until the October election.
"This sessional order change could mean the government could go to the Speaker and say we don't want to sit until 17 September, 2020," Mr Bleije said.
"Six months, we might not sit.
"The government wants to escape scrutiny and accountability for six months.
"This could be our last sitting of this parliament until the election."
He said the function of parliament was the only thing that stopped government corruption and that the nation's Chief Health Officer had not recommended parliament cease.
Mr Bleije said the parliament should instead take social distancing measures adopted by the Federal Government to sit next week.
The House will be adjourned until March 31, despite the Parliament being due to sit Thursday.
We believe it is important that the #Queensland Parliament only deal with urgent legislation at this time while we focus on our state’s response to #COVID19au— Yvette D'Ath MP (@YvetteDAth) March 18, 2020
Parliament has been suspended until the introduction of a bill dealing with the state’s response to the #coronavirus
Ms D'Ath took to Twitter last night before the vote to defend the move.
"The House, when adjourned this week, will be adjourned to the next sitting," she said.
"The proposed Sessional Order update is consistent with other jurisdictions, such as the Federal Parliament to allow for the sitting date to change in exceptional circumstances."
Upcoming legislation parliament is due to deal with includes changes to the Youth Justice Act, the introduction of election spending caps and integrity changes introduced following Deputy Premier Jackie Trad's house purchase scandal.