18 August 2020
Tim Quilty supports change of Parliament rules to allow remote sitting
Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has supported a proposal to change the rules of Parliament to permit remote sitting.
Mr Quilty spoke in the Legislative Council, at the heart of Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown, in favour of a proposal which would enable some MPs to remain in their electorate office but take part while Parliament sits.
“Our entire state has been told that it must work from home, but this government feels that this parliament is an exception,” Mr Quilty said.
“It’s been 50 years since we put a man on the moon. Running a parliament remotely is easy.
“Parliament should sit in person where possible – but should reserve the capability to sit remotely where necessary.”
Mr Quilty pointed out that while most of Victoria is working remotely, MPs are not allowed to do so.
“We’re not asking anything of this government that is not also being asked of every Victorian,” Mr Quilty said.
“When I told the Northern Victorian community I was coming down to Melbourne for Parliament last sitting, the number one response I got was ‘Why can’t you do it remotely? We all are’.
“Why not indeed”
Mr Quilty laid the blame at the feet of the Victorian Government.
“The Government has not bothered to put the process in place, and the opposition has gone along with that,” Mr Quilty said.
“Every business able to work remotely has been asked to do so. Despite the challenges, Victorians have set up their home offices and shifted to Zoom meetings and conference calls.
“It’s not too much to ask that the Parliament do the same.”
Parliament operates so that the voices of the people can be heard, Mr Quilty said, and is a vital part of democracy.
“Our job, in this place, is to ensure that voices of constituents are heard, to ensure that government is doing what it has been asked to do by the people,” Mr Quilty said.
“The continued operation of Parliament is a recognition that in a democracy the people are in charge.
“Instead, this Government has done what it can to obstruct democracy.
“Members of the crossbench have been kept in the dark about sitting arrangements.
“We’ve been chided for doing the work that we have been elected to do.
“If attending Parliament is dangerous, the solution is to implement remote sittings – not to seize the opportunity to operate without overview - to prevent your political opponents from doing their job.”
Mr Quilty pointed out that the change would be useful for reasons besides the COVID-19 crisis.
“This year, several parliamentarians have had a newborn while in office,” Mr Quilty said.
“Life happens and it’s not that difficult to accommodate it.”
For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819