An attempt to force the NSW parliament's upper house to resume sitting amid the state's COVID crisis has failed, with the government branding the move a "political and selfish stunt".
The Legislative Council was due to sit this week, for the first time since June, but the government lobbied for the proceedings to be cancelled as it deemed the health risk it posed too high.
Parliament rules require a government minister to be present for proceedings and none would attend, the coalition's leader in the upper house Damien Tudehope promised earlier this month.
But Labor members and the crossbench have argued the meetings, conducted in adherence with a strict COVID-safe plan - are essential to allow transparency and accountability during unprecedented times.
The house convened on Tuesday anyway, with the minimum number of representatives required in the chamber, and the rest tuning in online.
But within minutes, Nationals MP Trevor Khan rose to point out the absence of any minister in the house.
"Democracy is an essential service," leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council Penny Sharpe told the chamber, as it debated the rule preventing it from resuming official business.
The Greens have argued if Bunnings can open safely, so should parliament.
"We have the most comprehensive COVID safety rules in place that makes this one of the safest workplaces in the country," Greens MLC David Shoebridge told the parliament.
"Still the coalition is refusing to come and get parliament back to work.
"It's using COVID to avoid accountability. It's not about public health."
Legislative Council President Matthew Mason-Cox said he had no option but to cancel proceedings.
"I have no choice but to leave the chair, and I ask honourable members to reflect on their personal responsibility to this house and the people of NSW," he said.
Mr Tudehope blasted the MPs, saying the government had been clear parliament would resume on October 12, to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
"This is a political and selfish stunt, a move which only satisfies their own agenda and as a result puts parliamentary staff, their families and our communities at risk of transmitting COVID-19," he said in a statement.
He noted a cross-party committee from the lower house "agreed to follow the health advice" and postpone the scheduled sitting period in September.
"Labor cannot have one policy for the Legislative Assembly and a different policy for the Legislative Council," Mr Tudehope said.
Australian Associated Press