Greens push for parliament to return amidst bushfire crisis
THE Greens are leading a push to urgently recall NSW parliament with party members eager to authorise emergency relief payments to residents affected by the bushfires and launch an inquiry.
If successful, MPs could return to sit in the Legislative Council as early as this week but the move would need to be supported by a majority of members.
The upper house is not scheduled to sit until February 25.
Greens MP David Shoebridge confirmed the party was calling for parliament to return "so that MPs can authorise desperately needed emergency relief payments to those who have lost so much in the bushfire crisis".
"This is needed now, not in a months' time, to deliver immediate support for people without a home," he said in a statement.
"The Green propose an urgent, non-means-tested $10,000 Fire Recovery Payment to every household that has been destroyed by fire."
Both houses of parliament would need to pass the package.
If the Greens obtain a majority of votes needed to recall the upper house, the Coalition will be pressured to recall the lower house.
Legislative Council President John Ajaka said he had not been approached about the proposed recall which would require "standing order 36" to be invoked, forcing him to convene a sitting of the house.
While the Coalition is not expected to back the move, it has already garnered crossbench support.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers leader Robert Borsak said his party had been discussing an early recall with the Greens over the past week and "wholly" supported the idea.
"It's primarily to bring some accountability to this government immediately and in my view it's important we talk about it now," he said.
"We've had literally 20 or 30 royal commissions or inquiries since 1939 and lots of excellent recommendations are made but with them happening after the event they seem to be largely ignored and we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past."
"Hazard reduction comes up all the time but we haven't learned and we're still in the same predicament."
But the Greens also need Labor to support the recall, which is unlikely at this stage.
Labor frontbencher Ryan Park said there was "no need to call parliament back to ensure people get the financial assistance they so desperately need".
"Labor would never and will never stand in the way of one dollar of assistance to the victims of these fires," he added.
"People expect their elected representatives who have communities impacted by this fire to be assisting residents and small business owners to get back on their feet."
More to come.