The COVID-19 pandemic is testing parliamentary systems of governance across the world, especially in relation to oversight of executive actions. Observers in multiple jurisdictions have already noted the proliferation of delegated legislation during the pandemic and the shortcomings in legislative oversight of the same. To date, however, no close analysis has been conducted of the way in which legislative oversight mechanisms have broken down during the pandemic. This paper provides such an analysis, using examples from Westminster systems adopting the ‘legislative model’ of providing extraordinary powers. Looking at individual examples from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the analysis seeks to identify and explain the failures, and relative successes, in different mechanisms for parliamentary oversight, including parliamentary scrutiny committees (pre-existing and ad-hoc), disallowance, and sunset clauses. Although primarily descriptive, the comparative approach analysis permits preliminary conclusions to be drawn as to the way each jurisdiction may improve its methods of parliamentary oversight of delegated legislation. These comparative lessons will be of use both during and beyond the pandemic.
© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston