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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2941 ..

The bill will permanently adopt nine measures introduced by the COVID-19 acts last year. I note that the bill will extend a measure to assist incorporated associations to continue to hold meetings safely during the pandemic.

The bill will make amendments to one act in my portfolio as the Minister for Corrections, the Corrections Management Act 2005. This amendment was first introduced last year through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020. It was included to support the effective operation of correctional centres and because it was predicted that during COVID-19 there would likely be circumstances where detainees may require leave for long-term medical care.

When this measure was initially introduced last year it was envisaged that access to a longer period of leave than the standard maximum of seven days would reduce the additional administrative burden of renewing the permit every seven days and support consistency to align with the time frame of treatment of an individual’s health needs. Since this measure was introduced it has been acknowledged that detainees may require long-term local leave permits for medical or palliative care outside the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, this measure is proposed for permanent adoption.

The permanent adoption of this measure ensures that local leave permits can be issued for long-term periods for medical and palliative care even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Without this amendment, local leave permits, even those issued for medical and palliative care, can only be issued for a maximum of seven days and require regular renewal if an individual is receiving ongoing medical treatment that cannot be provided within a correctional facility.

With this amendment, local leave permits granted for the purpose of receiving long-term medical treatment or palliative care can be issued for a period of up to three months. This measure has been assessed as compatible with the Human Rights Act 2004 as it promotes the right to liberty and security of a person by allowing the release of detainees from full-time detention to seek long-term medical treatment or palliative care.

Safeguards are in place to prevent unintended consequences from issuing long-term leave permits for medical and palliative care. These safeguards include that the long-term local leave permit can only be issued upon receiving the advice of a doctor appointed under section 21 of the Corrections Management Act. Additionally, a local leave permit will be cancelled if the detainee breaches a condition of the permit or it is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was granted.

Lastly, I express my support for the amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 and the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 proposed by this bill. These amendments are relevant to my portfolio as Minister for Police and Emergency Services as they affect the operations of ACT Policing. These amendments, which will permanently adopt the ability for sworn search warrants to be applied for and transmitted electronically, will improve flexibility for ACT Policing and will no doubt contribute to a faster, more streamlined search warrant process, thereby improving the ACT’s response to crime.

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