Australia’s highly-paid federal politicians will have to turn up to work for just 10 days in eight months next year if an election is called in May.
The parliamentary sitting schedule for 2019 was released on Tuesday night and received immediate criticism for the amount of blank space it had.
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne described the schedule as being ‘quite unexceptional’, but the opposition argued that it was anything but that.
Australia’s highly-paid federal politicians will have to turn up to work for just 10 days in eight months next year if an election is called in May
Labor accused the Government of trying to avoid scrutiny due to their precarious position in the lower house after independent MP Kerryn Phelps claimed the seat of Wentworth vacated by former Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and the shock decision from Chisholm MP Julia Banks to move to the cross bench.
The vulnerable conservative government is holding on by just two votes as it limps towards a May election.
Labor’s member for opposition business, Tony Burke, took to social media on Tuesday to share his thoughts of the limited seating calendar,
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He said, according to the schedule, there would only be 10 days of parliament in the first eight months of 2019 if an election campaign was taken into account.
‘We’ve now had it confirmed from House of Reps there has never been an eight month period with only ten sitting days,’ Mr Burke wrote.
‘That’s never, they’ve checked back to 1901.’
The Labor frontbencher also stated since 2014, there had been five weeks of sitting before the federal budget rather than the planned two weeks in 2019.
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‘What is in front of us now is the surrender document,’ Mr Burke told ABC News.
‘They have decided they don’t want to risk what democracy might think of this Government.’
Labor’s shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the government had thrown in the white flag.
Labor’s member for opposition business, Tony Burke, took to social media (pictured) on Tuesday to share his thoughts of the limited seating calendar
The Government hit back with Leader of the House Christopher Pyne responded to Mr Burke’s Twitter comments, saying: ‘Complete lie from @Tony_Burke and he knows it
Christopher Pyne (pictured) described the opposition’s comments about the lack of sitting days as a ‘storm in a teacup’
‘They’ve given up,’ Mr Bowen told Sky News.
‘If the government has an agenda, and clear plans, and a positive agenda for the country, then they will bring the parliament back to see it legislated.
‘This is a government which has given up.’
The Government hit back with Leader of the House Christopher Pyne describing the conversation about the lack of sitting days as a ‘storm in a teacup’.
Mr Pyne also shared his thoughts of Mr Burke’s Twitter comments, saying: ‘Complete lie from @Tony_Burke and he knows it.
‘There are 9 weeks scheduled for the first half of the year and we have to have an election: like we do every 3 years!’
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne described the schedule as being ‘quite unexceptional’, but the opposition argued that it was anything but that
Mr Pyne also told The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The public are not the least bit interested in how many weeks the Parliament sits before the budget,’
Despite Mr Pyne’s comments about the general public’s lack of interest in Australian politicians’ work schedules, many people were quick to respond to Mr Burke’s tweet.
‘It’s beyond frustrating that they work for us and yet it appears we are powerless to change things,’ one person wrote.
‘Disgraceful. Don’t suppose there’s anything we can do about this?’ another person said.
A third person added: ‘Can we cut their pay like Newstart recipients who don’t turn up to work?’
The average cabinet minister is paid about $350,000 a year while their opposition counterparts takes home about $254,000 and backbenchers more than $200,000.
The average Australian earns about $80,000 a year.