It looks like Parliament will be sitting again tomorrow – whoopee – although the MPs who turn up will be socially distanced rather than sitting virtually.
Who made the decision seems to be a matter for conjecture. Thomas Coughlan, reporting in the NZ Herald, noted the ACT Party announcement that Parliament will return to sit this week in socially distanced form.
But that was news to speaker Trevor Mallard who, along with many MPs this morning, found out about Act’s plans via press release.
Act leader David Seymour said he “welcomed the parliamentary business committee decision that a socially distanced Parliament will go ahead next week”.
Mallard, however, said Parliament’s business committee had not actually decided anything when it met on Friday night. Rather, it had not decided to delay Parliament or progress with another plan.
Because the business committee had made no decision, Parliament is technically scheduled to resume as normal next Tuesday, Coughlan reported.
But Act’s gambit puts the ball in the court of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who can use her powers under parliamentary standing orders to ask Mallard for another delay to the sitting of the House.
The Bulletin from the Spinoff today affirms that Parliament resumes tomorrow after a plan prepared by the Speaker’s office for virtual question time was given the thumbs down by the National Party and Act.
One group that won’t be returning to the house is the country’s reporters. The Speaker told members of the media over the weekend that he won’t allow them to use the debating chamber’s press gallery until further notice. Access was maintained under level three last year.
Will the Press Gallery watchdogs be missed?
Meanwhile our Ministers have been getting on with the job of appointing people, caring for our mental wellbeing, battling poverty – oh, yes, and spending money.
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