Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2588 ..
In this way, the committee can bring the community into this Assembly, help the government synthesise community sentiment and also help the committee to prioritise which parts of the government’s COVID response it should scrutinise.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.45): Labor will be supporting the amendment moved by Mr Braddock. In response to the Leader of the Opposition’s comments about transparency and scrutiny in the announcements that were made on Tuesday, I think this is an ongoing pattern of the opposition probably not really watching the press conferences and then indicating that we have not said X when we have actually been very clear. We have been discussing for weeks and months our decision-making processes and everything that goes into them. We work very hard to be transparent with the community.
The Chief Minister, the Chief Health Officer or the Acting Chief Health Officer and I go out to press conferences every day to answer every question that journalists put to us. I was on radio every single morning and now twice a week, so I think any accusation that we are hiding anything or that we are not being transparent is patently ridiculous. Of course, scrutiny by the parliament is also important.
Ms Lee: That’s not what I said. You clearly weren’t listening. Not once did I say that.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I heard Ms Lee in silence, but of course they are a bit thin-skinned over there; they have a bit of a glass jaw over there. We are very transparent, we are absolutely welcoming of scrutiny, and we will be supporting Mr Braddock’s amendment. I do need to indicate that the Chief Minister stood up twice on Tuesday and yesterday with very clear information to the community about our decision-making processes. I would remind Ms Lee that we are in a global pandemic. One of the commitments that we have made to the ACT people is that we will not make promises we cannot keep.
The future at the moment is unpredictable, Mr Deputy Speaker. The future of this outbreak is unpredictable. We were clear that we knew we needed to extend this lockdown and we knew it was likely to be for four weeks. We thought it was really important that we told people that. The Chief Minister has also outlined what the steps beyond that are likely to look like. They are very likely to be similar to the way that we came out of lockdown last year. So any suggestion that that has not been talked about significantly and publicly is absolutely untrue.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (11.48): As we have discussed, at midday on Thursday, 12 August 2021, the government announced that the ACT would enter a seven-day lockdown from 5 pm that day. The Chief Health Officer’s Public Health (Lockdown Restrictions) Emergency Direction 2021 (No 1) commenced. The measures in that direction were justified by the government because of the detection of COVID-19 in the ACT’s wastewater and also the confirmation of the first case of local transmission of COVID-19 in Canberra since 2020.