Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3929 ..
In conclusion, I would like to thank the government for how they have engaged with the opposition on this bill, and I reiterate that the opposition will not be opposing it.
MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (11.11): The ACT Greens will support the Public Health Amendment Bill tabled by the Minister for Health. This legislation is an important step to ensure proper governance and accountability over COVID-19 public health orders.
Canberrans have overwhelmingly shown incredible resilience and commitment to shared values around community safety and care over the last 18 months. We have undergone two essential but tremendously difficult stay-at-home orders with very few incidents of concern related to people failing to comply with these directions. This has been a huge cultural shift for our local and global community, an experience very few of us would have imagined possible this time two years ago.
We know that people in our city did not wilfully disobey public health orders or put themselves and others at risk, despite this enormous and culturally shocking undertaking. The biggest risk in terms of transmission was people working in precarious industries and other marginalised groups such as people experiencing substance use issues and those experiencing extreme mental health concerns. Delicate and considered work was undertaken by this government, public servants and the community sector to ensure that those at risk of being unable to stay at home were provided with appropriate and timely assistance to do so.
This legislation ensures that there is transparency around the legal technicalities of public health orders as they relate to COVID-19. Specifically, this bill creates a new temporary offence covering the failure to comply with a public health direction while a COVID-19 declaration is in force and makes the COVID-19 declaration a notifiable instrument. While the ACT government has ensured that public health directions about COVID-19 have been treated as notifiable instruments in practice, by being placed on the legislation register, this legislation gives legal sanction to this good practice.
This legislation has been carefully put together by experts in the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, ACT Policing and the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions. The ACT Human Rights Commission has rightfully provided advice on the significant human rights impact of this legislation, to ensure that rights that are necessarily limited under this legislation are only limited in a reasonable and justifiable manner.
I thank all of those who worked on this important legislation, as well as the government and Chief Health Officer, who have ensured that measures to keep our community safe over the last 18 months have been reasonable, proportionate and considered.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.13), in reply: Today I am pleased to be progressing changes to the Public