Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 June 2022) . . Page.. 1699 ..
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.58): This is an important bill at an important stage in our management of and recovery from the pandemic. It is vital that we have the right framework in place to protect public health. As we move through the different stages of managing the pandemic, we need to adjust the framework to suit those different stages. This bill enables us to continue to take a measured, transparent and sustainable approach to managing the public risk posed by the pandemic.
As members know, the government referred the bill to the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing. I thank the many members of the community, stakeholder organisations and statutory authorities who provided views on the bill. As Minister for Human Rights, I want to note in particular, as other members have, the significant input of the Human Rights Commission in assisting the committee and, in turn, informing further development of the bill.
The bill achieves the critical balance of competing rights. It promotes the right to life and the protection of the family, and it may limit the right to privacy and reputation. It balances these competing rights and establishes a framework that means that the social, economic and public health impacts of COVID-19 can be appropriately addressed.
There are three elements of the bill that I wish to touch on. Firstly, the Human Rights Commission submission to the committee included observations on vaccine directions in the context of the review mechanisms within the bill. The committee made a recommendation on that matter. The bill now includes a provision allowing for a person to apply for an internal review of a decision to not exempt the person from a requirement of a vaccination direction. The bill gives power to the internal review to revoke the original decision and to make a new decision. I note that a person who has standing can also seek judicial review of a decision made on exemption applications.
Secondly, the bill includes a provision requiring the Chief Health Officer to give a copy of any segregation or isolation direction to the public advocate. This picks up the submission made by the Human Rights Commission and ensures that powers exercised under this legislation will be subject to appropriate real-time oversight.
Thirdly, the bill makes it clear that part 6C of the bill, which sets out the regulatory framework for protecting the public from public health risks, does not interfere with an agency visiting and carrying out oversight functions at places of detention. Again, the Human Rights Commission emphasised the essential function of oversight like that carried out by official visitors.
Can I take this moment, as the minister responsible for the official visitors program, to thank all of those appointees for their incredibly hard work at a very difficult time over the last two years, and for their dedication and professionalism, which, of course, are always maintained. It is important that the bill makes it crystal clear that nothing