Webinar 2: "Law-making and accountability in responding to COVID-19"
The fifth Melbourne Forum on Constitution Building in Asia and the Pacific has been organised as a series of four online seminars. The second webinar was held on 10 September 2020.
Video of Webinar 2 - Melbourne Forum 2020
This session dealt with the operation of representation in the course of responding to the pandemic and the manner in which decision-makers were held to account.
Papers were produced to frame the discussions of case studies from five countries:
- New Zealand - Dean Knight
- South Korea - Jeong-In Yun
- Singapore - Jaclyn Neo
- Malaysia - Wilson Tay
- Papua New Guinea - Bal Kama
Questions to be considered in relation to each case included:
- Is representation confined to the legislature, or is there also a separately elected executive?
- To what extent were responses to the pandemic influenced by the context of a parliamentary or presidential system?
- How were the legislative functions of law-making, representation and holding the government to account managed during this time?
- If elections were due, were they held or postponed? If they were held, what concessions were made to the emergency conditions? If they were postponed, with what constitutional consequences?
- Did legislatures meet during the height of the pandemic? What procedural changes were made?
- What role did executives play in responding to the pandemic? What role for Cabinets?
- Was legislative power delegated to the executive and to what extent was its exercise scrutinized?
- How were decisions about spending made and what oversight has there been over spending policies and their execution in practice?
- What effect did the impact of the emergency on the operation of legislatures have on other initiatives, of a constitutional or legislative kind?
- What positive or negative lessons can be learnt from the experiences in this case?