Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2596 ..
results with their records within the contact tracing system to enable them to be released from quarantine.
Madam Speaker, it is true that we have been in a global pandemic for 18 months, but it is not true that we have had Delta for 18 months. It has changed the game in relation to how close contacts are defined, which is why we had so many people in quarantine when we had those school outbreaks. That would not previously have been the case. Our contact tracing system had been working very well up until that point, and there were thousands and thousands of people all trying to come out of quarantine at the same time. There were a number of different issues related to the matching up of negative test results with people’s records in the contact tracing system and, of course, lots of people trying to make phone calls in to our team that were not, unfortunately, all able to be answered in a timely way.
I have apologised to those people who were affected by this. I think it is grossly unfair of Mrs Jones to describe this as “bungling”. Our team has been working incredibly hard to support the IT system, to run it and to answer phone calls and get back to people as quickly as it can. I absolutely recognise the distress that this caused for some people. In relation to vaccination appointments, those were rebooked as quickly as possible as soon as people came out of quarantine.
MRS JONES: A supplementary. Given this failing, Minister, how will the government be compensating the Canberrans who were arbitrarily detained, given we are a human rights jurisdiction?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I think most people in Canberra understand that we are in a global pandemic. These are extraordinary times and people have been outstanding in abiding by the public health directions to quarantine—
Mrs Jones: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones.
Mrs Jones: The question was not about how Canberrans respond, and it goes to relevance. The question was: how will people be compensated for their arbitrary detention?
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones, you interrupted the minister about 20 seconds into the answer with a point of order. Ms Stephen-Smith.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I was saying, the people of Canberra have been absolutely outstanding in understanding that quarantine—along with testing, tracing and isolation of positive cases—is a vitally important part of our public health response.
Mrs Jones: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, on relevance.
MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones.