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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3010 ..


ACT Policing—COVID-19

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in a COVID Select Committee hearing last week, the Human Rights Commissioner asked that people apprehended by police for breaking quarantine could be returned to their location of quarantine rather than to the city watchhouse or the prison. Minister, why are COVID-positive cases or close contacts of COVID-positive cases being taken to the watchhouse and the prison?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I really think it is a bit difficult to ask the Minister for Health a question about the operations of policing. In regard to what police have been—

Mrs Kikkert: It’s a health order.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I am the health minister; that is right, Mrs Kikkert. I am not responsible for ACT Policing.

Opposition members interjecting

MADAM SPEAKER: Members! Mrs Jones!

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I might ask Mrs Kikkert to repeat the actual question that she wants answered.

Mrs Kikkert: Minister, in the COVID committee hearing last week—

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Not the whole thing; just the question is fine.

Mrs Kikkert: Minister, why are COVID-positive cases or close contacts of COVID-positive cases being taken to the watchhouse or the prison?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: The advice that we have from ACT Policing is that when people are being charged with breaches of the COVID-19 public health directions, that is generally associated with other activity for which they are being charged. As a general proposition, people are not being taken to the watchhouse or, indeed, to AMC as a result of breaching public health directions; they are being taken to the watchhouse or AMC as a result of being apprehended for other activities, and they happen to be also breaching public health directions.

MRS KIKKERT: What changes to legislation, if any, do you need to make to enable people to be returned to their place of quarantining or isolation rather than to the watchhouse or the prison?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: We do not need to make any changes to legislation. Police can already do that.


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