Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has repeatedly refused to answer questions during a brief sitting of Victoria’s upper house, held against health advice.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton had recommended parliament not sit in line with the stage four coronavirus restrictions in place across metropolitan Melbourne, and the lower house complied.
But the legislative council pushed ahead with a three hour sitting on Tuesday, during which it agreed to put off meeting again until August 18.
Council president Nazih Elasmar does have the discretion though to alter the date.
Opposition and crossbench MPs backed the motion, but voiced their concerns about the government not being held to account at a time when it was wielding unprecedented powers over the public in the coronavirus fight, including a curfew.
In what then became a heated question time, Ms Mikakos said she would only provide written answers to questions on Tuesday, including on the state government’s coronavirus response.
“The chief health officer has given this parliament … very clear advice that it would be prudent for the parliament to be delayed, not to be cancelled,” Ms Mikakos said ahead of her referral to written responses.
That advice remained in place on Tuesday.
“(The) issue is about people coming in from regional areas into stage four areas,” Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng told reporters.
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said she hoped parliament would find technological solutions to parliament sitting in the circumstances.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said parliament was an essential service.
“If Dan Murphy’s is an essential service I think democracy is pretty central as well,” he told reporters.
“When you’ve got Victorians in stage four lockdown, our rights restricted like never before, I think it’s okay for the government to answer questions.”