Sunday Territorian

Crossbench joins with CLP on more sittings

- THOMAS MORGAN POLITICAL REPORTER

THREE independen­t MLAs have backed a motion to reinstate three lost days of parliament­ary sittings.

The August sittings of the Legislativ­e Assembly were cut short after Greater Darwin and Katherine went into lockdown over a Covid-19 case.

The government has so far resisted a push by the CLP to reinstate the days later this year, saying they will only be used if absolutely necessary.

Crossbench MLAs Robyn Lambley, Kezia Purick and

Yingiya Guyula have now joined the push to add those three sitting days back to the calendar.

Ms Lambley said parliament, which sits for only 30 days a year, was an “integral part” of debate.

“An important piece of work which I had planned, which was scheduled for that week, included a debate on the economic developmen­t of Central Australia,” she said.

“That is something which is highly relevant to my community, which won’t be raised for another week.”

In a statement on her Facebook page, Ms Purick said the cancellati­on of the last week of sittings left her with many unanswered questions about the government’s decisions.

“Interestin­gly, the NSW, Victoria, ACT and federal (parliament­s) are all operating in lockdowns,” the MLA said.

Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiar­o said the decision not to reschedule the days was “regressive” and “antidemocr­atic”.

“Parliament isn’t just about government business,” Ms Finocchiar­o said.

“It’s about scrutinisi­ng government during question time, and it’s about general business, where the opposition and independen­ts set the agenda.”

Leader of government business Natasha Fyles said the government was still open to adding extra days, but only on the government’s terms.

“We’ve got nine days and more than 100 scheduled sitting hours still to get through this year, and we’ll add more if we need them closer to the end of the year,” Ms Fyles said.

“Worrying about this now is just a stunt from an Opposition Leader scrapping for political relevance and some media airtime.

“We’re focused on the issues Territoria­ns care about right now – which is jobs and lives, not whether pollies spend three, four or six days in parliament come November/ December.”

 ??  ?? Robyn Lambley.
Robyn Lambley.

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