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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 361 ..

the minister responsible for a specific COVID-19 measure will be required to prepare a quarterly report and present that to the Assembly one month after the end of the quarter.

Of the initial 71 measures established in April 2020, 11 measures were technical amendments, rather than substantive measures capable of being reported against; four measures did not have ongoing measurable impacts; and one measure was repealed. Of the remaining 55 measures, in the November 2020 reporting period, 24 measures have not been used and eight measures could not be reported on due to the lack of data available.

The government appreciates the consideration of this issue by the standing committee. I have responded, as Ms Lee indicated in her comments, to the chairs of both the Standing Committee on Economy and Gender and Economic Equality and the Scrutiny Committee, explaining why the government considers that the proposed change to reporting arrangements is, indeed, proportionate and appropriate.

Quarterly reporting will enable the Assembly to monitor the use of these measures to identify trends over a longer reporting period. Quarterly reporting would not compromise Assembly scrutiny. Proposed quarterly reporting also aligns with the length of time that a public health emergency declaration may be extended by the Minister for Health under the Public Health Act.

To respond directly to Ms Lee’s observations, the shift to quarterly reporting supports the ability of the ACT Public Service to focus resources where they are most needed as the government works towards recovery planning. The other side of politics are always keen for red tape reduction and a more efficient government. This is that in action. That they are going to oppose it—

Ms Lee: Is it? Or is it a lack of transparency?

MR BARR: It certainly is red tape reduction in action. Having public servants prepare nil monthly reports, month on month, is a waste of their time. It should be focused on recovery planning and what is most important now. That is the government’s view.

The bill also includes a provision to amend section 3A of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act. Section 3A concerns the presentation requirements of subordinate laws and disallowable instruments made under a power given under a COVID-19 measure. Currently, section 3A requires that these subordinate laws and disallowable instruments must be presented to the Legislative Assembly within the first sitting day after the instrument is notified on the Legislation Register.

If a subordinate law or disallowable instrument is not notified within this time frame, it is taken to be repealed and the process of creating and enacting an instrument would have be repeated.

This bill seeks to amend this requirement to allow for such subordinate laws or disallowable instruments to be presented within two sitting days after notification.

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