Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 364 ..
transparency; it is about giving the Canberra public what they need to ensure that their community leaders are taking the appropriate actions in dealing with this pandemic.
I commend my amendments to the Assembly.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (11.13): I have touched upon the government’s views on this matter, and I want to reiterate that if any of the powers are used, there will be a great degree of public engagement on that question because there is massive media interest and a great deal of community interest. We have delivered more press conferences on COVID than any other issue in the 16 years that I have been in this place. It is almost a daily affair. There were various points during the pandemic when either the Minister for Health or I were standing in front of the media every single day. So there has been no lack of transparency in relation to the government’s responses to the pandemic and that will, of course, continue.
What we are talking about here is paperwork flowing through month after month with zero reporting. If a measure is used, it is publicised; there is reporting. I have given the undertaking that if we use a measure, it will be very clearly advised to the community, the media and the Leader of the Opposition. That is what the government will do—it will not tie up bureaucrats in month after month of zero reporting requirements. This is a better use of government resources. That is cutting red tape and that is getting on with the economic recovery. That is what we are focused on and that is what we will be doing.
I table the government response to the Standing Committee on Economy and Gender and Economic Equality report for the benefit of members and indicate that we will not be supporting Ms Lee’s amendments:
Economy and Gender and Economic Equality—Standing Committee—Report 1—Inquiry into COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (No 3)—Government response, dated 8 February 2021.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (11.15): We need to be clear that we are not talking about taking reporting away; there will still be reporting on a quarterly basis. The Greens supported this amendment when the Liberal Party brought the amendments through nearly 12 months ago. We agree that there should be transparency; we are now having a semantic debate about how often there should be reporting.
We need to also be clear that resources are not endless and that we are keen to strike the right balance between providing the accountability to the Assembly, being clear with the community about what is happening and also ensuring that we can focus the public service resources where they need to be focused—whether that is on getting the vaccine rollout right, working with the community and other recovery measures. There is a balance to be struck here. There is a clear undertaking from the Chief Minister that if there is any use of the powers, it will be made very clear publicly and