Next meeting of the Senate
The Senate is next scheduled to meet from 6 to 8 October 2020.
The Senate met from 24 August to 3 September 2020. It was an historic fortnight for the Parliament with senators and members able to participate in proceedings by video link for the first time. Under rules recommended by the Procedure Committee and adopted at the beginning of the first sitting week, a number of senators were able to engage remotely with aspects of the Senate's work, including debating legislation and asking questions of ministers during question time.
For those attending the sittings in person, social distancing measures remained in place in and around the Senate chamber.
The Senate sat for over 82 hours during the fortnight, in which time it agreed to 17 bills, including a bill providing for the extension of the Jobkeeper program. 18 bills were referred to committees, bringing the total number of bills referred this year to 38.
For more information about the sittings of the Senate during the COVID-19 pandemic, see:
Coming up in the Senate
The federal budget is due to be delivered to Parliament on 6 October, followed by budget estimates from 19 to 30 October 2020. Committees have long been using video conferencing to conduct hearings and speak to witnesses who are unable to attend in person. Nevertheless, the scale of video linkups anticipated during these hearings will be another first and historical moment for Senate estimates.
Senator Di Natale delivered his valedictory statement via video link on 25 August, and formally resigned as a senator the following day. The Victorian Parliament held a joint sitting on 4 September and Senator Lidia Thorpe was selected to fill the vacancy.
Another historic parliamentary moment occurred during the fortnight with the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation Committee holding its first public hearings since its initial establishment in 1932. In 2019 the committee raised concerns about the increasing exemption of delegated legislation from parliamentary oversight, and it is currently taking evidence on the matter from expert witnesses. At the conclusion of the inquiry, it will report its findings to the Senate.
There are currently over 100 Senate and Joint Committee inquiries underway, many of which are still accepting submissions. A number of public hearings are scheduled to take place, and a range of reports are due to be tabled in coming months. Each committee has a "track committee" or "track inquiry" option that will enable you to receive updates on relevant activities.
All lectures have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Further advice will be provided when available.