The parliamentary select committee on COVID-19 begins today. Led by Senator Katy Gallagher, the committee will be examining how key policies during the virus outbreak in Australia, including JobKeeper, were created and implemented.
The committee has broad terms of reference to allow a comprehensive review of the government’s response to the pandemic and to ensure accountability.
The Senate Committee into COVID-19 held its first hearing of many today and has a big job ahead. Here is quick wrap up of some of the issues we covered on the new look virtual senate hearing. #auspol #COVID19Aus pic.twitter.com/686bMsWkGv
— Katy Gallagher (@SenKatyG) April 23, 2020
The committee consists of three Labor senators, two coalition members, a Greens member, and independent Jacqui Lambie.
The Senate established the committee on 8 April 2020 and will present its final report on 30 June 2022.
Treasury officials will be questioned by the committee, followed by sessions with the Department of Social Services, National Disability Insurance Agency, and Services Australia.
We just heard from the Treasury that only 10 percent of payments are in the pockets of Australians. Here is what Treasury had to say when I asked them why it is taking so long to get this support to people who need it. #auspol #COVID19Aus pic.twitter.com/mZjo1crOyb
— Katy Gallagher (@SenKatyG) April 28, 2020
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese supports the committee saying it would ensure “oversight during this period.”
The federal budget has been pushed back from its usual May delivery date to 6 Oct.
Parliament has been adjourned until Aug. 2020 while it deals with the virus. However, there are concerns about proper accountability measures.
Pauline Wright, president of the Law Council of Australia, said in a statement that oversight of parliament had been restricted due to those measures.
“In these uncertain times, ensuring transparency, scrutiny, and oversight of the government’s response … is paramount if the Australian people are to maintain confidence in the parliamentary system.”
She was supportive of the committee and acknowledged the importance of its role.
“Australians need to see democracy fully in action, not suspended, throughout this crisis.”