Australian MPs allowed to take part in debates in parliament from home via videolink for first time

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Australian MPs allowed to take part in debates in parliament from home via videolink for first time

Members of federal parliament will for the first time be able to take part in debates and question time via videolink, under a plan agreed between the

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Members of federal parliament will for the first time be able to take part in debates and question time via videolink, under a plan agreed between the major parties.

Leader of the House Christian Porter said the video option would be available to MPs who can satisfy Speaker Tony Smith they are unable to attend in person.

They must be able to show the coronavirus pandemic had made it ‘essentially impossible, unreasonably impracticable, or would give rise to an unreasonable risk for the member to physically attend’.

Leader of the House Christian Porter said the video option would be available to MPs who can satisfy Speaker Tony Smith they are unable to attend Parliament House in person

Leader of the House Christian Porter said the video option would be available to MPs who can satisfy Speaker Tony Smith they are unable to attend Parliament House in person

They will have to dial in on a secure line from a parliamentary or an electorate office and will be able to contribute to debates and ask questions during question time, with 15 minutes notice given to the chair.

But all voting will be done in person by those who travel to Canberra and the remote members won’t be able to second motions or move amendments to a motion or bill.

A number of Labor frontbenchers will not be attending including Victorians Bill Shorten, Richard Marles, Mark Dreyfus and Clare O’Neil.

The Senate’s rules for video calls, based on a procedures committee report due to be tabled in parliament on Friday, won’t be approved until senators sit on Monday morning.

They are expected to be slightly different to those applying in the lower house.

The lower house and Senate are due to sit for a fortnight from Monday under strict rules covering hygiene and distancing.

Parliament House won’t be open to the public and there will be a limit on staffers and others entering the building.

On the agenda is expected to be a bill to extend the timeframe for, but cut the level of, the multi-billion-dollar JobKeeper wage subsidy and JobSeeker welfare benefits.

The Senate is scheduled to debate bills dealing with paid pandemic leave, native title, the research and development tax incentive, payment times for businesses, ASIO powers, superannuation and training.

Former Greens leader Richard Di Natale will deliver his valedictory speech via videolink on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives will debate laws dealing with family assistance, dairy cattle export charge, superannuation, land rights, veterans’ wellbeing and the ABC.

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