Thu. Nov 17th, 2022

Australias politicians are scrambling to flee Parliament House ahead of Canberras emergency lockdown.Labor MPs Jim Chalmers, Bill Shorten and Murray Watt all confirmed they had fled or plan to flee the capital on Thursday.
Speaking at parliament, 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 was ordered into a seven-day lockdown from 5pm on Thursday after a positive case of Covid-19 was detected in the territory.
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 fled the capital on a flight to Melbourne on Thursday afternon.
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.
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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.