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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2565 ..

The announcement that was made on Tuesday was, to put it plainly, heartless. The hopes that many Canberrans had pinned on the leadership—the clarity in anticipating a clear roadmap out of lockdown—was just not there. Instead, we got the most minor of tweaks to our existing health directions. We got a defensive Chief Minister, who blamed the federal government, the New South Wales government, and at times even the media for his woefully inadequate pathway forward. Today, when I saw this statement, I had a glimmer of hope. After all, the ministerial statement is titled “Update on the COVID-19 outbreak in the ACT and necessary lockdown, business support, and a pathway forward”. Note: “the pathway forward”. Instead, what we got was more of the same. There was no further detail about what the future beyond the lockdown will look like for the ACT. There was inconsistent information about what restrictions might start to ease at 70, 80 and 90 per cent of vaccinations. There was no clarity about whether we will start seeing restrictions which are different to our current restrictions in October, November or the end of the year.

This is why my motion for debate later today will call on this government to provide a clear plan forward for a safe transition out of lockdown. The Chief Minister is not heartless. He is not immune to the desperate plight of our business community, and he is certainly not ignorant of the need for a clear plan that will provide hope for our community. I look forward to the debate on my motion later today, but I also take this opportunity to implore the Chief Minister to listen to the desperate pleas of our community and provide our city with a plan for a safe transition out of lockdown. If he does so, he will provide to our community not just a plan but hope—and hope is something that we all desperately need—that we will get through this and that there is, indeed, light at the end of the tunnel.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

COVID-19 pandemic response—update

Ministerial statement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (10.43): I rise to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in the ACT and the actions that the government is taking in response to the current outbreak to protect the health and wellbeing of Canberrans and to supplement the Chief Minister’s statement today. Since my previous update to the Legislative Assembly on 3 August, of course the COVID-19 situation has changed considerably, both in the ACT and in our neighbouring states of New South Wales and Victoria. All three jurisdictions are learning just how difficult it is to supress the Delta variant. In the ACT we have experienced a challenging five weeks responding to an outbreak that began in August and we are continuing a whole-of-community effort to suppress this outbreak.

I begin by thanking the incredible team that has stepped up to respond to the outbreak. This has been a multi-agency effort led by the ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services, with all ACT government directorates contributing to the response. I thank the Outbreak Management Team, the Outbreak Support Team, the Health Emergency Control Centre, the Clinical Health Emergency Coordination Centre and the Public Information Coordination Centre for their tireless work.

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