Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2591 ..
conferences; the preparedness of the ACT government, given that 18 months have passed since the first COVID-19 case emerged in Australia, and the initial impact of the Delta strain appears to have far exceeded any modelling done by the ACT government; communication with those who were in home quarantine, a form of detention, and the lack of communication by ACT Health, leaving some in the belief that they could not leave this detention for days after their allocated time had expired; communication with those who had been in exposure locations and the current state of that communication; the human rights and responsibilities of the vaccinated and unvaccinated in the territory and how this will be managed; the return to school and how that will be managed; the mandating of vaccines for any specific workforces once all have had the opportunity to get vaccinations and any exemptions based on health, faith or other personal reasons; training in donning and doffing PPE for staff in the non-health facilities—for example, the AMC; the relief that is available via community service and partner networks and whether they have been appropriately funded; and the financial assistance for business, as well as for mental health care.
There is plenty of work for a COVID-19 select committee to do. There is precedent from the Ninth Assembly. Such a committee does not have to outlive the lockdown by far, except to have time to report on its findings; nor does it necessarily have to meet very often. I look forward to the ACT government’s support for this modest and measured request for an appropriate scrutiny of the ACT government’s hugely increased powers and their huge effect on the lives of those we are here to represent.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (11.57): I thank all members for their contributions to this debate. It is pleasing that a select committee, in some form—not the original form that I sought in my motion—will be established. For all the reasons that I outlined in my beginning speech, it is a really important part of our parliamentary duty. It is a significant aspect of what we do in this place as members and the privilege that we have to be able to do it.
These are extraordinary times, as I outlined earlier. We have put our trust, our confidence, in goodwill, in the decision-makers, the political leaders of our city, to make those decisions and we have largely been supportive of them. But it cannot come with any diminished democratic and parliamentary scrutiny. It is during these times that we need it more than ever.
My original motion called for a four-member committee, two members from the opposition and two members from the coalition government. Of course, as is always the case in this place, the Greens like to straddle when it suits them. When it suits them, they are members of the government: “Hey, aren’t we part of the government that did this?” When it does not suit them: “We’re the Greens; we’re not part of the government.” Either way, I acknowledge that they have got the numbers and they are going to get it up. I note that Mr Braddock in his amendment has changed the composition of the committee to one member from each party.
Of course, I acknowledge the importance of the time and resources of our hardworking officials, the Chief Minister and all the ministerial colleagues who are working on this pandemic, as well as the business community, the industry groups and the community sector who are also under the pump in responding to this pandemic.