Senate Committee Review into Australia’s Virus Response Begins Today

April 27, 2020 Updated: April 27, 2020

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 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.

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.”