House debates

Monday, 23 March 2020


Days and Hours of Meeting

6:45 pm

Photo of Christian PorterChristian Porter (Pearce, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the Manager of Opposition Business. The alterations to the sitting calendar that have been proposed this evening relate, in large part, to the fact that last week the Prime Minister noted that putting budgets together at this time, with the enormous uncertainty that exists in predicting, anticipating and estimating economic parameters, is not something that any Commonwealth or state government should be doing. Indeed, those governments have, in effect, decided not to put together budgets at what is the usual time in or about May. The Treasurer has noted that forecasting for budgets is very difficult at the best of times, let alone when we're in the midst of the economic uncertainty that we are experiencing at the moment. As a result, as members would be aware, the government have decided that we will not be handing down a budget until the first Tuesday in October, being 6 October. Earlier today, the House agreed to necessary measures on supply and other continuances to ensure the proper functioning of government services and the continuation of vital programs to ensure the government does not need to pass the budget in May.

I note that I understand there's likely to be a division with respect to the sitting calendar. Something else that has played in the government's mind is that, whilst we've run today's session very efficiently and with great cooperation, some risk attaches to the operation of parliament, particularly during what is anticipated to be the peak point in the transmission of the coronavirus. Obviously, we come from all points in Australia. We've done our level best today, I think, to conduct this session and today's sittings with all of the appropriate social distancing that has been recommended for Australia at large. Nevertheless, some risk attaches to flying in multiple members from every corner in Australia, and some attention to that fact has been had in redesigning the sitting calendar that is now before the House.


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