Page 2585 - Week 09 - Thursday, 16 September 2021

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That is why I bring forward this motion today to establish a select committee to consider and report on the ACT government’s health and financial response to the current COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. As we transition out of lockdown, and we eventually will, and into the COVID recovery period, the select committee will examine the government’s response to the pandemic, focusing primarily on health and economic recovery, as well as the lasting impact it may have on education, housing, transport and any other policy areas that may arise.

It is more important now than ever that there is appropriate scrutiny of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Select committees on government responses to COVID-19 have been established in many legislatures across the country, including New South Wales, Victoria, here in the ACT last year and the Australian Senate. I hope that those opposite see this select committee as an opportunity—an opportunity to allow members of our community to have a genuine say on the government’s COVID-19 outbreak response.

As the Chief Minister and his government must acknowledge, the Canberra Liberals have been largely supportive of the ACT government’s response to this outbreak. We have supported the health advice, the measures that were needed to keep Canberrans safe, and we have put forward constructive proposals to support vulnerable members of our community. But this does not mean that they got, or are getting, everything right. Especially after Tuesday’s announcement—the lockdown extension and lack of a plan—many Canberrans are seeking answers.

When will they get a plan that will see us safely transition out of lockdown? What milestones need to be reached with vaccinations before concrete details will be released for the resumption of businesses that have been shut from day one of lockdown? When, how and subject to what, will schools return to classroom teaching? What are the conditions, milestones or achievements that need to be met before we can meet with other households?

What will this vaccination race mean for Canberrans? What will happen when we reach 70, 80 or 90 per cent double doses? When borders do open up, what does the future of quarantine look like in the ACT? Will we start getting boosters after a certain percentage of the population has received double doses?

These are serious questions that must be asked here, and our community deserves answers from the Chief Minister, his cabinet and government officials. We also need to hear the voices of business, educators and our community groups. I welcome the call for the establishment of this select committee from the Human Rights Commission in an open letter that was signed by all of the commissioners and addressed to me, the Chief Minister and the leader of the Greens. It was, indeed, a welcome coincidence to receive this letter yesterday, seeing that I had submitted my motion for the establishment of this select committee on Monday. The commissioners noted:

Emergency power exercised by government must continue to be carefully monitored so that any disproportionate or inadvertent impacts are quickly

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