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In 160 years, Parliament has seen very few sitting weeks like this


On the 160th anniversary of the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly, parliament is taking another break as tensions rise between the parties.

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After sitting this week with social distancing measures in place, parliament has been vacated again until June 16, despite attempts by the Opposition to bring it back a week earlier.

Liberal National Party frontbencher Jarrod Bleijie, the Manager of Opposition Business, said health precautions were being taken and the parliament could also sit virtually if required.

“I cannot understand why this Premier continually seeks to run away from scrutiny and why we cannot just sit pursuant to what is scheduled,” Bleijie told parliament.

But the acting Leader of the House, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, told parliament the approach was a reflection of the times.

“To have a petulant, self-indulgent amendment thrown up so that the Manager of Opposition Business can hear his voice a bit more in this chamber is a damning indictment of the attitude of those opposite rather than the responsible attitude that this government is taking,” Hinchliffe said.

The exchange capped off a tumultuous week in parliament, capped off by the Wednesday night debate when Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington sought to have Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk condemned for a string of integrity issues involving at least a dozen Labor MPs.

“The list of Palaszczuk Government members included in the motion is so long that we could not fit it all within the 250 words,” Frecklington told parliament, prompting angry interjections from the Labor benches.

State Development Minister Kate Jones later responded by listing the failures of the former Newman government.

“Unfortunately, I have only five minutes to speak,” Jones told parliament.

“I am one of those politicians who always argues that if you cannot say it in three minutes you cannot say it, but this is the one time I am challenged on that because I still have five pages of broken promises to go through.”

With an election due on October 31, a parliamentary committee is holding an inquiry into the Government’s response to COVID-19 however the budget has been put off indefinitely and emergency powers extended.

On Thursday, Speaker Curtis Pitt pointed out that today would be the 160th anniversary of the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly, prompting Bleijie to call for a return to more conservative times: “Bring back the wigs!”

Bleijie also spent the week circulating anti-Labor memes and videos on Twitter.

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