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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 360 ..


MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (10.59), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to the debate. The COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (No 3) is an important piece of legislation that will assist the government and the community to continue to navigate through this pandemic.

The measures in this bill were first adopted, as speakers have alluded to, in April and May last year, not long after the first COVID cases were detected in Australia, and almost a year later, it is clear that the pandemic is not yet over.

Over the holiday period, the Avalon cluster in Sydney affected many family plans. In the New Year, we have seen more transmissible strains of the virus, in a shorthanded way described as the UK or South African variants, being detected in hotel quarantine in a number of states, forcing lockdowns—relatively short and sharp so far, but they are obviously of concern. All of these events remind us that the pandemic persists and that the ACT must remain vigilant to ensure that we continue to protect each other from the virus.

This bill reflects the government’s commitment to keep the territory functioning during these uncertain times. It focuses on extending the expiry of non-health-related measures that were adopted under the original Emergency Response Act and the Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Act. Some of these measures, I remind colleagues, are due to expire on 8 April this year. So it is prudent to extend these measures because we need to be able to function in a COVID-safe way whilst the pandemic remains.

Through the legislation the extension of these measure will, in most cases, be tied to the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration. The provisions establishing most of the measures will remain in the ACT legislation until 12 months after the COVID-19 declaration, as extended, was last in force. However, generally, the measures will be available for use only when an emergency declaration is in force.

Extending the availability of these measures means that government operations in areas such as the courts, policing, the prison, the Sentence Administration Board and schools will continue to be well placed to respond to the pandemic by changing their operational procedures, where that is considered necessary.

Other amendments in the bill concern technical matters, such as amendments to the Gaming Machine Regulations, and the repeal of two measures in the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act.

Section 3 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act sets out reporting requirements for COVID-19 measures under the Emergency Response Act and the COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Act.

As has been discussed in the in-principle debate, the amendment that the bill introduces would change the reporting period from monthly to quarterly, meaning that


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