It should be troubling to all Victorians that the Premier of our state has not only cancelled Parliament but has dismissed the need for it during this ongoing pandemic crisis.

Parliament is the people’s house and the place where grievances are aired, problems solved and accountability delivered.

It is very concerning that not only have we lost two weeks of Parliament due to health restrictions, but that the Premier has set up a false choice claiming that he doesn’t want to be distracted from getting people vaccinated by making speeches in Parliament.

This is a false and misleading narrative. By that rationale, Parliament would never sit through world wars, bushfires or any other crisis challenging the state.

Parliament of course can and should sit even if via remote means, as the Federal Parliament has been doing this last week.

This is not about politicians getting to grandstand, it is about the very real need for us as local MPs to be able to take concerns of our electorate to the floor of Parliament and hold the government of the day accountable.

Had we been sitting during the two weeks that have been cancelled, I would be raising issues about the need to get school children back to school, the impact of lockdowns on small businesses in Gippsland and the mental health of everyone who is affected by these restrictions.

Is it safe? Well in September last year the Premier recalled Parliament when he needed to pass legislation to extend the State of Emergency.

It’s ironic that we had more cases, more deaths and more active cases across the state then than we do now.

Parliament is not something to be toyed with and the Premier must be held accountable.

Danny O’Brien, State Member for Gippsland South.