Two in Three Australians support Parliamentary Scrutiny of COVID19 Decisions

New polling shows more than two in three Australians support Australia setting up a COVID19 response committee modelled on the New Zealand model.

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,008 people between 3 and 6 April 2020.

Key Findings:

  • More than two in three Australians (68%) support Australia setting up a New Zealand style COVID-19 parliamentary oversight committee, only 13% oppose.
  • Before it was suspended, the New Zealand Parliament established a parliamentary committee to scrutinise the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 response. The committee includes representatives of all political parties, and hearings are publicly broadcast.
  • A prominent group of Judges, the National Integrity Committee, convened by the Australia Institute has called for the establishment of a multi-partisan parliamentary oversight committee, when Parliament next sits.
  • Any such oversight committee needs to be properly constituted, have full powers, meet regularly and publicly, and have the ability to call key officials and Ministers before it. 

“This research indicates the Australian public‘s trust and confidence in the decisions of the Government in this time of crisis would be enhanced by a powerful parliamentary oversight committee ,” said Ben Oquist, Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

“When decisions are being made so rapidly, often with imperfect information, a New Zealand style COVID-19 parliamentary oversight committee will go a long way to giving the public confidence in the decisions being made.

“Australians are being asked to trade away significant civil liberties in the interests of public health, increased public confidence in how these measures are being determined will go a long way to ensuring Australians take heed.

“MPs from all sides of politics have backed such oversight committees, and the Prime Minister has acknowledged the role the Senate plays in providing this oversight in ordinary times. The challenge now is for Parliament to work together on a committee model which helps instil public confidence, not further erodes it.”

Polling brief and revised edition of briefing note by Bill Browne, covering latest New Zealand and ACT developments, are available to download below.

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