Page 417 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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I referred this matter proactively to the committee, in recognition of the complex matters we are seeking to address. We recognise that COVID-19 will be with us for some time and that there will come a time when a public health emergency is not the appropriate legislative arrangement to manage that reality, but neither is having no legislative framework. Ensuring that the government and Chief Health Officer can continue to implement baseline public health social measures while building in more oversight, accountability and transparency is the driving intent of this bill.

In recognition of the human rights implications, I referred the bill to ensure that members of the Legislative Assembly, stakeholder organisations, statutory authorities, including the ACT Human Rights Commission, and members of the public had the opportunity to review the proposed legislation and provide feedback for the government to consider prior to debate on the bill.

As I stated in my introductory speech when tabling the bill, the government has worked closely with the ACT Human Rights Commission. In the process of considering the standing committee’s report, the government have again engaged with the ACT Human Rights Commission to inform our responses to each recommendation. I would like to publicly acknowledge their thoughtful and constructive engagement with the ACT Health Directorate throughout this process.

The government’s response accepts in whole, part or principle eight of the 10 recommendations and notes the remaining two. I believe this represents an acknowledgement of the diligent work of the committee.

In the next week or so I will circulate government amendments that will give effect to the government response. The government believe our proposed amendments will provide a balanced approach in ensuring that directions under the bill achieve their intended outcome to protect the health and wellbeing of Canberrans from COVID-19 while balancing key human rights considerations and limitations.

Fundamentally, this bill is about providing a road map out of a public health emergency, and the extraordinary powers that that entails, and into an environment of living with COVID-19 while still being able to take the necessary baseline measures to protect our families, friends and community, particularly those who are most vulnerable to poor outcomes from COVID-19. I look forward to the Assembly’s consideration of the government’s response and the proposed amendments, and to the debate on this bill, which I expect to occur in the April sittings.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (2.56): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes that:

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