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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 288 ..

Economy and Gender and Economic Equality—Standing Committee

Report 1

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.37): I present the following report:

Economy and Gender and Economic Equality—Standing Committee—Report 1—Inquiry into COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (No 3), dated 27 January 2021, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

I am pleased to speak to the Standing Committee on Economy and Gender and Economic Equality report on the committee’s inquiry into the COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (No 3). As members will be aware, this bill is for an act to amend legislation to provide for emergency measures in response to the COVID-19 emergency and for other purposes. The bill is the fourth in a series of omnibus COVID-19 bills.

The bill per se falls into the category of legislation to respond to exceptional or emergency circumstances. In reaction to the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe have passed emergency laws or declared states of emergency to respond to the unfolding and continuing crisis. This action followed the World Health Organisation’s declaration that COVID-19 was a global pandemic and that all countries urgently needed to take the required measures to prepare emergency response systems.

The committee observes that, as reported in an international symposium analysing the global use of emergency powers in response to COVID-19, approximately 80 per cent of the global population, including the ACT community, has been affected in some way by emergency and executive action taken in response to COVID-19. It is useful to consider the measures the bill is seeking to enact against the UK Hansard Society’s principles to guide the UK parliament’s response to the pandemic.

In a contribution jointly authored during April 2020 by Professor Meg Russell of the Constitution Union at University College London, the UK Hansard Society set out principles that should govern the UK House of Commons’s decisions on arrangements for the pandemic. These principles include that crisis arrangements should be based on wide and transparent consultation with members to maximise support. They should be sunsetted to make clear that they are temporary and create no automatic precedent for the post-crisis era. They must ensure fair representation for all members and parties. The crisis and the parliament’s response to it should not become a pretext to shift power further towards the executive and the party managers, and these principles should continue to guide the House’s decisions as it considers its future arrangements.

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