I commend the presiding officers, the parliamentary staff, the Prime Minister and the opposition leader for finding ways to allow federal parliament to sit with the virtual participation option for members and senators. This collaborative approach stands in stark contrast to the Premier of Victoria, who refuses to subject his government to any scrutiny by the opposition at this time. The continued cancellation of state parliamentary sittings has reached a new low with the Premier saying a Zoom parliament is not at the top of his list:
I think if you ask Victorians whether people giving speeches on the floor of the parliament is as important as getting jabs in the arms of people … I am not going to apologise for the priorities I have got.
Mr Premier, what’s important is democracy. What’s important is the government of the day being subjected to public scrutiny. What’s important is accountability. How you spend Victorians’ money, how you respond to the pandemic, why Victoria has the world record for lockdowns—these are all issues that need to be scrutinised in the state parliament. We have a pandemic which is being compounded by a loneliness epidemic and a mental health crisis. The Premier should stop hiding from Victorians. The state parliament should be sitting, and the Premier should make that happen this week.
Finally, I want to thank all the health and the care sector workers. Your effort on the front line of this pandemic has been extraordinary. Not all heroes wear—