Territory Stories

Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020



Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020

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Parliamentary Record 27


Debates and Questions for 13th Assembly 2019 - 2020; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory




Debates and Questions

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8350 In turn, our Chief Health Officer makes directions. The most significant of these directions is for the closure of Territory borders, which involves compulsory quarantine for 14 days for all non-essential arrivals in to the Territory. As the Chief Minister said, we normally welcome people to the Territory. We love tourists and new people joining us; we are sad when they leave. But now is not the time to visit the Northern Territory. You are simply not welcome. Categories of persons or workers are exempt from the immediate quarantine requirements under the Chief Health Officers direction, including health practitioners, law enforcement, emergency workers, military personnel, transport or freight workers and specialist skilled workers required to perform functions that enable the Territory to operate safely and sustainably. They need an exemption from the Chief Health Officer. Initially, only international arrivals were required to quarantine for 14 days at a place of their choice. As the transmission of COVID-19 rapidly became widespread overseas and interstate, the quarantine requirements soon progressed to include interstate arrivals. As a result of a number of confirmed cases arriving in the Territory from overseas, it was determined thatin order to contain the risk to Territoriansall international arrivals would quarantine in a place as directed by the Chief Health Officer. Interstate arrivals could still quarantine at a place of their choice. However, as this pandemic spread around the world and we watched as, tragically, the death toll rose overseas, it became apparent that further controls were required to keep the Territory safe and save lives. On 30 March, the Chief Minister announced that from midnight on Wednesday 1 April, all interstate arrivals would be required to quarantine in a hotel. All arrivals to the Territory, whether from overseas or interstate, would be required to meet the $2500 cost for compulsory quarantine. This arrangement is being managed through a voluntary contractual arrangement between the arriving person. That is needed to make it clear that quarantine is compulsory. We want a strong deterrent in place, which is making people pay for their quarantine. Under the current arrangement, people are asked to pay a contribution of $2500 per person or $5000 per family, which is defined as two or more persons in the same group. People experiencing financial hardship are eligible for consideration for reduced rates on a case-by-case basis. Empowering the Chief Health Officer to charge a fee to persons required to quarantine is intended to discourage unnecessary entry to the Northern Territory during this public health emergency. This will have a positive impact on the health of all Territorians. Mr HIGGINS: A point of order, Madam Speaker! I want to seek clarification. Do the people on the phone count towards the quorum in the Chamber? We do not quite have that number. Madam SPEAKER: I would say that they do, because they are attending. Mr HIGGINS: How do we know that they are attending at the moment? Madam SPEAKER: We just do. Ms FYLES: We trust them; they are listening intently. This bill amends the act to give the Chief Health Officer of the Northern Territory the power to charge a fee for quarantine no higher than the amount prescribed in the Public and Environmental Health Regulations. The bill also amends the Public and Environmental Health Regulations to insert the maximum fee the Chief Health Officer can charge is $10 000. The amendments to the act will be applied, as you would expect, retrospectively and enables the Chief Health Officer to charge the fee for quarantine which occurred on, or after, 4 April2020. This decision was not taken lightly by the Northern Territory Government. We are normally welcoming of people, but at this time we want to keep the Territory safe. We want the minimum amount of people coming in to the Territory, thus reducing the risk of Coronavirus to our community. In putting in place this legislationsomething I do not think we imagined would roll outa number of technical issues have become apparent in the current act during the management of the public health emergency that are corrected in this amendment bill.

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