ART Media  |  ART launches petitions calling on all Australian Parliaments to sit through the Covid-19 crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the greatest expansion of executive power in generations. Yet the evidence supporting these powers and the decisions made by government are not transparent or subject to parliamentary scrutiny. 

ART Chair, Fiona McLeod AO SC said today:
The current unchecked expansion of executive powers is alarming. Australians are asked to trust that new laws are just and fair, and that the spending of vast sums of public funds are justified and well-targeted. When public trust is at an all-time low,a governmental plea for more trust while doing nothing to ensure that it is earned is alarmingly hollow. It is vital that parliament has mechanisms to hold governments to account.

ART Director the Hon Barry Jones AC said:
The sharp increase in executive power has been accepted with a shrug in Australia, seen as a regrettable necessity. But we should be alarmed if this unchecked power is matched by a decline in public scrutiny.

Ms McLeod said:
We call upon parliament to resume the normal conduct of business, virtually if necessary, as is occurring elsewhere throughout the world. Our petitions to all parliaments across Australia send a message that public office is a public trust. It encompasses an obligation to act courageously, with transparency and accountability.
 
ART is a non-partisan organisation comprised of former parliamentarians, judges academics, business people and citizens interested in ensuring the delivery of accountability, transparency and openness in government, across the Commonwealth public sector and in relation to matters that involve contractual arrangements with the private and public sectors. 

Media Contact:          
Fiona McLeod AO SC, fmcleod@vicbar.com.au, 0412 288 987

Please fill in both petitions!

Petition to the Senate

The Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:The petition of the undersigned shows concern at the risks to the integrity of Australian democracy and accountability for the exercise of executive powers and spending of public money if the Federal Parliament is suspended as proposed in the current sitting schedule.Your petitioners ask that the Senate resume the normal conduct of Senate business, noting that there is no constitutional or technological impediment to virtual sittings, committee hearings, Senate estimates, live broadcasts and the like which would protect senators and staff from exposure to COVID-19. We ask that any body formed to oversee the emergency response is agreed to by the Senate and the House of Representatives

Petition to the House of Reps

The Honourable Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:The petition of the undersigned shows concern at the risks to the integrity of Australian democracy and accountability for the exercise of executive powers and spending of public money if the Federal Parliament is suspended as proposed in the current sitting schedule.Your petitioners ask that the House of Representatives resume the normal conduct of business, noting that there is no constitutional or technological impediment to virtual sittings, committee hearings, live broadcasts and the like which would protect members and staff from exposure to COVID-19. We ask that any body formed to oversee the emergency response is agreed to by the House of Representatives and the Senate.