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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2942 ..

I conclude by saying that the amendments in this bill are of great benefit to the ACT government and the community not only during the pandemic but long after the pandemic is behind us. I thank the Attorney-General for bringing this bill forward and commend the bill to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (5.46), in reply: I thank members for their contributions to this debate. The Operational Efficiencies (COVID-19) Legislation Amendment Bill will make amendments to 11 pieces of legislation across five ACT government ministerial portfolios. Through direct consultation with ACT government directorates and agencies, nine of these measures were identified as having long-term value for supporting ongoing operational efficiencies and therefore suitable for permanent adoption to be used beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

One measure was identified as necessary to be extended to be available for the duration of the pandemic. Another measure had expired but has been identified as necessary to be reinstated for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, I propose to move amendments to the bill, which I will return to later.

Amendments to the Bail Act 1992 and the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005, which allow for undertakings to the court to be given remotely rather than in person, have assisted the courts in maintaining a COVID-19 safe environment during the pandemic. These measures have ongoing benefits beyond the pandemic by giving the courts an option to receive undertakings by audiovisual means, particularly where the accused is not able to physically appear or is in custody.

Amendments to the Corrections Management Act 2007 which permit the issuing of longer term local leave permits for the purposes of medical or palliative care during the COVID-19 pandemic have had administrative benefits for ACT Corrective Services. This measure has been assessed as having ongoing benefits, recognising that detainees may need longer term local leave permits to seek medical treatment or palliative care outside the pandemic, and having the option to issue a local leave permit of this type for a period of up to three months will reduce operational burdens.

As this amendment allows the release of detainees from full-time detention for the purposes of medical treatment or palliative care, the amendment promotes the right to liberty and security of person. Appropriate safeguards are legislated, including the ability for such a permit to be cancelled due to a breach of conditions or if it is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was issued.

Amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 and the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, which support the application and issuing of electronically sworn search warrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, have reduced physical appearances at the courts, keeping both ACT Policing and the court staff safer during the pandemic. These measures have been identified as having ongoing benefits beyond the pandemic, particularly in future situations where personal applications may be impossible or not in the public interest.

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