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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2749 ..

In concluding today’s statement, as I am sure everyone will be pleased to hear, I would like to thank all Canberrans for staying the course of this lockdown and for their response to the call to get vaccinated, which now sees the ACT with nation-leading high vaccination rates. I know the outbreak and extended lockdown in the ACT have been a significant challenge, but I am proud of the way the community has responded. Over the next few weeks and months, we will see significant developments in the ACT and across Australia as jurisdictions work to implement the national plan to transition Australia’s national COVID-19 response.

With reopening and easing of restrictions, we expect to see case numbers increase. My message to the community is to stay COVID safe. The community should feel assured that the ACT government’s COVID-19 response will be ongoing. Our approach will continue to evolve in line with the latest expert advice of AHPPC and the decisions adopted by national cabinet. My shout-out today is to the entire ACT community for doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

I present a copy of the statement:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—ACT Government response—Ministerial statement, 6 October 2021.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the statement.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (10.48): I thank the minister for her update and detailed information about happenings in the ACT for on-the-record reporting through the Hansard process in the Assembly, and in particular for the Chief Health Officer’s human rights consideration statement, which is a good start. Something that has been discussed by the COVID committee is the need for clearer and more public explanations of human rights considerations of the very strict, severe and intense lockdown measures that have come through the health orders. We have had 10 health orders, to the best of my knowledge, as of yesterday. It was discussed in last year’s COVID committee that limitations on human rights should be accompanied—if not at the time, certainly soon afterwards—by human rights statements. In that committee’s recommendations, from their interim report no 2, it is stated:

The Committee recommends the ACT Government direct that all delegated legislation made in response to COVID-19 (including notifiable instruments) include a statement of compatibility outlining whether and how the instrument is compatible with human rights.

I understand that it may be argued that our health directions are not notifiable instruments, but they are nonetheless notified on the legislation register. They probably should be notifiable instruments, but the parliament has not been sitting during the lockdown. That is probably one of the reasons that they are not, but they can operate even when the parliament is not sitting. Nonetheless, it is the right of the community not just to be told that these considerations are being made, but to see what those considerations are. That is the reason, when you do things in the chamber

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