Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8353 We have not seen the numbers to date but we must not become complacent because that is what happened overseas. We have seen health professionals, doctors and nurses overrun with cases and feeling desperate because they cannot care for someone in the way they usually provide care; they have not had the resources. Images of the hospitals in Italy and New York come to mind. These are countries that are used to a health system similar to ours. I am sure they took for granted the fact they had resources for any emergency but now they do not. However, through the measures and daily changes that Territorians accepted in their lives, we managed to buy time. We must not become complacent because we could see all of that change. I assure Territorians that we have put strong plans and measures in place. We are working and will continue to work to make sure Territorians are kept safe and if they need the care, it is there. Territorians have bought usthat is who we should be thanking. Every Territorianexcept for the 42 who have had to have an infringement noticehas changed their life, whether they do not go out as much or try keep physically distant. They have stopped seeing family and friends. That allowed us to prepare the personal protective equipment, PPE, that we so often speak about. We have the stock in the Territory; it is at an adequate level. We had to access the national medical stockpile but our stockpile has had a chance build back up. The more time we have, the better prepared we will be. We hope that the pandemic does not hit our shores like it has overseas. In Australia, to date, we have seen nearly 7000 cases. Tragically, 75 deaths have been confirmed by jurisdictions. There is a slowing in the disease in Australia but we need to be reminded that AUSMAT, our National Critical Care and Trauma Centre, staff are in Tasmania. It is believed that one case caused an outbreak in that community. Thousands of people in that region have been put into quarantine to stop the spread. We have seen other situations where one case spread so quickly. We will put in place measures, such as this today, to protect the community. We acknowledge the hard work of Territorians. We thank them for what they have done; we know it is not easy. The economic impact is huge. People no longer have a job; their shifts have been reduced. We put plans in place to support local businesses and people staying in jobs. Many are doing their bit. The Public and Environmental Health Act 2011 is the legislation we are reliant on to alleviate the public health emergency. We will continue to act on the best available advice and the Chief Health Officer will continue to make directions that are timely, proportionate to the threat and necessary to serve the public health interest of the Northern Territory. I am pleased to commend the bill to honourable members. Motion agreed to; bill read a first time. Ms FYLES (Health): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I have asked that we pass this bill on urgency. I move that the bill be declared urgent. Motion agreed to. Ms FYLES (Health): I move that the bill be now read a second time. Mrs FINOCCHIARO (Opposition Leader): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, the CLP opposition is pleased that the government heeded the calls of the Police Association, as well as us and members of the community, to send a clear signal that there will be zero tolerance for this disgusting behaviour. Our police, nurses, emergency workers and frontline workers will be assured that strong action will be taken, particularly at this time of unprecedented health crisis. It is important that this legislation sends a strong message of deterrence. It sends a message from the community that this behaviour is deplorable, disgusting and will not be tolerated. It will give some comfort to those at risk of exposure to this disgusting behaviour that there are mechanisms in place to send the strongest deterrent message possible and, therefore, a consequence to an action if someone engages in this behaviour. This will allow for an on-the-spot fine of 35 penalty units, $5495, for coughing or spitting on a worker during this time of crisis. In addition, police have been given the discretion of seeking a larger penalty for serious coughing or spitting incidents with a fine of up to $15 700 or 12 months imprisonment. There needs to be strong deterrents against engaging in any illegal activity, but spitting or coughing on workers at any time is unacceptable. I was going to say, At a time when they are working in extreme
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