Masked MPs return to parliament as aged care furore rages

Federal parliament has returned after more than two months, with strict measures in place for the next fortnight.

Masked MPs return to parliament as aged care furore rages

Federal parliament has returned after more than two months, with strict measures in place for the next fortnight.

MPs were seen in masks as they attended a string of media doorstops, before parliamentary proceedings began.

Others contributed remotely for the first time, via a secure video link from their electorate office.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for parliament to sit this year but it needs to, in order to pass changes to extend JobKeeper and the coronavirus supplement for JobSeeker recipients until March 2021.

The government is keen to try and legislate the extension this week.

The aged care crisis dominated proceedings and Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck apologised in the Senate after he was unable to recall how many aged care residents have died from COVID 19 during an inquiry last Friday.

Senator Colbeck said he takes full responsibility for what happened.

"Can I express my sincere condolences to every family who has lost a loved one during the pandemic into aged care. Can I also say I should've had the data on Friday and I apologise for not having done that," he said.

Senator Larissa Waters and Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles were among those who appeared via videoconference, due to COVID-19 restrictions in Queensland and Victoria.

Senate President Scott Ryan warned state and territory COVID-19 quarantine requirements could have "dangerous" consequences for parliamentary democracy.

"In the current pandemic, an important principle is at stake – notably the ability of the executive or its officers (no matter the jurisdiction) to control attendance at parliament, or constrain the work of members of parliament when it is directly related to parliamentary proceedings," Senator Ryan said.

Victorian MPs had to quarantine for 14 days in the lead up to the sitting fortnight, Queensland MPs will be required to do so afterwards and Western Australian MPs have exemptions to travel to Canberra for parliamentary sittings.

Source : 9 News More