Anthony Albanese says Labor has agreed with the government for a sitting starting from May 11 or 12. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS

Government Services

Labor agrees to May days for parliament

2020-04-18 11:44:31

The nation’s politicians will return to Canberra in the second week of May for an ordinary, non-coronavirus related sitting of parliament.

But the effects of the virus will still be felt, with the parliament expected to be in the scaled-down, socially distant format used during two emergency sitting days.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese says Labor has agreed with the government for a sitting starting from May 11 or 12 “in the normal way”.

That week would usually include the delivery of the federal budget but it has been delayed until October 6.

“There’s no reason why parliamentarians can’t, as we have the last two times we’ve met, meet in a way that protects the health of both parliamentarians and people who work at Parliament House,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Friday.

“I think Australians expect us to be sitting, I think that sends the right message that we’re sitting.”

He said the government still had to continue work on economic, social and environmental policy and it needed parliament for that.

“It’s not just to deal with the coronavirus crisis,” Mr Albanese said.

“It will be interesting, for example, to see whether the principle that the government has discovered with regards to recent events of listening to the science applies to climate change.”

Since early March, politicians have returned to Canberra only twice for single sitting days called to deal with specific coronavirus-related legislation.

It abandoned six scheduled sitting weeks between March and August.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that as the nation slowly moved towards a return to normality, it was important parliament did so too.

Logistical problems that need working out include the fact there aren’t many flights running at the moment and several states have border closures in place.