It is somewhat reassuring that a Senate Select Committee has been established to ‘inquire into the Australian Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.’ However, it is still both preferable and possible for Parliament to sit.
Unlike the full Senate, the committee will have no role in making decisions. It will call for submissions, conduct hearings and report and make recommendations.
The terms of reference are very brief so it will be up to the chair and committee as to how this inquiry proceeds and up to the Government as to whether it cooperates or not.
It is not unusual for committees established to deal with contentious issues to be divided along party lines and if this happens it will be an unfortunate waste of time.
It is unusual for a committee to be inquiring into the actions of government, as they happen but this is also the case in New Zealand. The final report is due on or before 30 June 2022 but the Committee should report progressively. You can sign up to track the committee here.
See here for the Senate Select Committee members.
New Zealand has only one house – the House of Representatives – and the Epidemic Response Committee has 10 members, drawn from all parties. It has called for submissions and hearings are underway and live-streamed here. The New Zealand Parliament sat on 25th March and is scheduled to meet next on 28 April, provided their Alert Level 4 is lifted by then.
The UK Parliament is setting up a ‘virtual parliament’ for its next scheduled sitting on 21 April so it can be done!