Page 1700 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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in part 6C interferes with those roles, and that visiting and overseeing places like the AMC and Bimberi are not impeded.

It is clear that this was a productive committee process that drew out important matters. The bill takes on many of the issues and recommendations raised throughout the inquiry. I thank the Human Rights Commission and the hundreds of individuals and organisations who provided input to the bill. I commend it, with the amendments that Minister Stephen-Smith is proposing, to the Assembly.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.01): Firstly, I want to acknowledge and thank the many frontline health staff and all of those who have been working tirelessly in our health and compliance sectors throughout the pandemic, to help keep us all safe and to keep our economy ticking over. This has been an enormous effort and it has required coordination and cooperation across many different services and from our entire community.

Thank you, Minister Stephen-Smith, for bringing forward this bill and the further government amendments, and ensuring that the legislation is robust, provides for the public health needs of our community and provides an appropriate approach to human rights.

Throughout the pandemic, the ACT public health response has taken different forms in order to implement the most appropriate directions as the pandemic has evolved at a rapid pace. It is important that we have in place the amendments proposed through this bill as a public health emergency is no longer appropriate. However, there is a need to have certain public health measures continue or allow for the possibility of implementation to keep our community safe.

The directions of the Chief Health Officer and associated compliance mechanisms have been fundamental to the ACT’s success in its handling of the pandemic and will continue to be as we navigate COVID-19 into the future. All of us in this Assembly have heard many different perspectives from our community about the ACT government’s response to the pandemic. Primarily, this has been incredibly positive.

It is important to briefly reflect on where we have been and where we are, now that we are looking to the future. The last couple of years have been incredibly challenging. The shock and the practical implications of the lockdowns impacted every single person in our community. I am incredibly proud of how our community has banded together to get through this and keep our community safe. We have to remember that when this started we did not have a vaccine, we did not know how this virus would variate, and no-one knew how all of this would play out.

One key observation from these last couple of years is how we have all had a slightly different set of circumstances that we have had to come to terms with during these periods of lockdown and other restrictions. It would be hard to find any two experiences that are exactly the same. Our unique experiences have been shaped by the industries in which we work, how and where we work, whether or not we have school-age children, how we travel, whether we live in a safe and comfortable domestic situation, if we have an underlying health condition or mental health

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