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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2772 ..

Ms Lee: Madam Speaker, a point of order—

MADAM SPEAKER: A point of order, Ms Lee.

Ms Lee: The question was specifically why the health order to mandate vaccinations is not being introduced as primary legislation, as recommended by the Human Rights Commission. I ask the minister to be relevant.

MADAM SPEAKER: I think she is responding to your question reasonably directly, Ms Lee, and I cannot direct the minister how to answer the question.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH-: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I think I was about 23 seconds in and just covering the breadth of issues that were in Ms Lee’s long introduction to her actual question. In response to her question, other jurisdictions are also using their public health directions, in line with the declaration of emergencies, to do the initial mandating of vaccinations for a range of workers. This is already the case in the ACT in relation to the requirement for aged-care workers to be vaccinated. And that public health direction, which is in effect already—the mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers is not—is in line with those that have been done by other jurisdictions. Of course, we are also doing work to understand what the longer term arrangements will be, because, inevitably, the public health emergency will come to an end as we are living with COVID and we will need to look at what those longer term arrangements might look like. That work is underway.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary, Ms Lee.

MS LEE: Minister, will you be introducing primary legislation on this vaccination mandate? And why, except for the Chief Health Officer’s statement tabled this morning, has your government not been releasing human rights compatibility statements for all the public health orders, as you had agreed to last year?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH-: I thank Ms Lee for her two questions. On the second one, as I have just indicated to her, the Chief Health Officer determined that she would do a general human rights compatibility consideration statement because the same human rights are engaged in each of her directions and the same reasons applied to making those directions. Therefore, her decision was to make a general statement around her considerations of human rights compatibility. In the context of the outbreak, she has now updated and expanded on that statement, given the lockdown arrangements that have been put in place, which, again, are consistent with those in other jurisdictions and consistent with the advice of the AHPPC.

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