Australia’s politicians are scrambling to flee Parliament House as Canberra’s emergency lockdown looms near.
Labor MPs Jim Chalmers, Bill Shorten and Murray Watt are all confirmed to have fled or plan to flee the capital on Thursday.
Speaking at the Canberra airport, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers defended his decision to return to Queensland.
“The lockdown’s at 5pm – some of us have got kids to go home to,” he said.
“It makes a lot of sense (to leave).”
Canberra is set to enter a seven-day lockdown from 5pm tonight after a positive case of Covid-19 was detected in the territory.
Camera IconCanberra is set to enter a seven-day lockdown at 5pm tonight. APH Credit: Supplied
During question time on Thursday, the speaker informed parliament that “parliamentarians who remain in the ACT are classified as essential”.
The speaker said parliamentarians’ staff would also be considered as essential workers.
Mr Shorten is confirmed to have fled the capital on a flight to Melbourne earlier this afternoon.
Senator Watt is set to flee later today on a commercial flight to Queensland.
While parliamentarians have previously been offered special privileges in emergency situations with private “special purpose flights”, sources have told NCA NewsWire that MPs will need to flee Canberra on commercial aircraft this time around.
Camera IconParliamentarians have previously been offered private ‘special purpose flights’ in emergency situations. Gary Ramage / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia
NSW has enforced a stay at home order for anyone in Canberra from August 5, however it is currently unclear what restrictions will be in place for ACT arrivals in other states.
A spokesman for Senator Watt confirmed the Labor MP would be “following any requirements as necessary” upon arrival in Queensland.
During question time, the speaker emphasised the “strict” Covid-19 rules that had been in place in Parliament House during the past two sitting weeks.
The rules in Parliament House were “above and beyond the current ACT rules” he told the chamber.Internet Explorer Channel Network