In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, democratic states around the world have massively expanded executive powers. Much of this transfer of power has occurred by the delegation of legislative power from parliament to the executive.
- Delegated legislation has been a major means of public governance in Australia during the pandemic. It is a process of executive law-making whereby government ministers, departments, agencies or other officers, rather than parliament, are empowered to make regulations with the force of law.
- Governing by delegated legislation can raise concerns rooted in the rule of law and democratic legitimacy, which are heightened by the stringency of the measures they contain to suppress the virus and to address its economic and societal impacts. These concerns can be addressed by effective parliamentary oversight of such legislation.
- There are a number of ways in which Australia could improve its parliamentary oversight of delegated legislation. Ensuring that executive-made laws are appropriately overseen by parliament will enhance democratic legitimacy and need not detract from the speed and efficiency with which such laws are made.