Melbourne Forum 2020: Webinar 2

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:

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?