Thursday, 3 September 2020
COVID-19: Parliamentary Procedure
I, and also on behalf of Senator Wong, move:
That the Senate, in the spirit of mutual respect and working with other institutions, agencies and officials managing the COVID-19 pandemic:
(a) notes that:
(i) the law of parliamentary privilege is intended to protect the ability of legislative houses, their members and committees, to exercise their authority and perform their duties without undue external interference, and
(ii) the powers and immunities that enable and secure the work of the two Commonwealth houses belong to the houses themselves by constitutional design – a design which ensures that the Senate, in particular, can undertake its functions with an appropriate degree of independence;
(b) recognises the statement by the President of Monday, 24 August 2020 regarding the risk of COVID-19 measures constraining the ability of senators to undertake their duties;
(c) affirms the right of the Senate to determine its own meetings, and in particular the sessions for the remainder of 2020 and the scheduled Budget Estimates hearings;
(d) maintains the right of senators to attend parliamentary proceedings whether directly or by remote participation (if available);
(e) calls on the executives and executive agencies of the Commonwealth, states and territories to have appropriate regard to these matters in devising and implementing public health measures and, wherever possible, to do so in consultation with representatives of the Senate; and
(f) refers to the Procedure Committee for report to the Senate no later than 8 October 2020 any consequential matters arising from the above.
Question agreed to.