Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP has today written to Legislative Assembly Speaker the Hon Jonathan O’Dea MP and requested that the August sittings of the State’s Lower House be delivered on-line.
“During the pandemic, the mother of all Parliaments the House of Commons, conducted its proceedings on-line. It is anachronistic to require Members of Parliament to attend a building first used for parliamentary proceedings in 1824 when these proceedings can be conducted in a COVID-safe and modern environment,” Mr Ward said.
“This isn’t 1824 – it’s 2021. The technology exists and it should be used to facilitate our democratic institutions. If other branches of government can meet electronically such as Cabinets and Courts, why not the Parliament?
“COVID shouldn’t be an excuse to water-down parliamentary oversight. In fact, this pandemic makes it even more important to hold the Executive to account for the decisions it makes.
“Regional Members of Parliament mix with large numbers of people. If we are wanting to dissuade people from moving between the city and the regions, requiring regional MPs to come to Sydney sets a bad example,” Mr Ward said.
“I have an obligation to represent my community. I take my role as a Parliamentarian very seriously. I shouldn’t be prevented from doing my job because of the risks associated with COVID.
“Whilst it would be preferable to meet in person, the current situation requires the Parliament to evolve and respond to this very contemporary situation.
“Old rules and procedures are not the priority – they are merely an excuse. Giving a voice to our communities at this time is more important than protecting ‘tradition’,” Mr Ward concluded.