Australian Parliament recalled to vote on wage subsidy

Canberra, April 2 (IANS) The Australian Parliament will reconvene to vote on the government’s wage subsidy package despite border closures across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese agreed on Wednesday that both Houses of Parliament will sit on April 8 to vote on the A$130 billion ($79 billion) scheme, reports Xinhua news agency.

The package will entitle Australians who have their employment status changed by COVID-19 to fortnightly payments of A$1,500 ($912) in an attempt to prevent job losses and stimulate the economy.

Parliament was suspended indefinitely after a skeleton crew of MPs voted to legislate the government’s first two economic stimulus packages, which were worth combined A$83 billion on March 23.

With several states having since effectively closed their borders MPs could be subjected to mandatory 14-day quarantine periods after returning home from the parliament.

Attorney-General Christian Porter, who is also the government’s Leader of the House of Representatives, has been tasked with getting MPs to and from Canberra along with his Opposition counterpart Tony Burke.

The minimum number of lower house MPs required to convene Parliament is 31.