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
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8356 The Bill removes the reference to contravening a CHO declaration because it is the Minister who makes a declaration, and it is also not possible to contravene a declaration under that Part of the Act. Further, the offence refers to the CHO making a direction under section 52(3) but this is incorrect as the power to issue the direction is under section 52(1). This has been corrected. Has anyone been charged under the existing section, 56(1)(a)? If that section is incorrect because the CHO could not make the declarationonly the ministerwould an offence be declared null and void? If that section of an existing bill was not binding, were there any repercussions? We debated about police being spat on in relation to blood at the time; people were concerned about HIV. I wondered why we could not introduce legislation which covered that. Section 187 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 says: (1) In this Code assault means: a. the direct or indirect application of force to a person without his consent or with his consent if the consent is obtained by force or by means of menaces of any kind or by fear of harm or by means of false and fraudulent representations as to the nature of the act or by personation It applies to emergency workers, which includes Northern Territory Police, Fire and Rescue people, emergency services, ambulance officers and medical practitioners et cetera. There is also common assault, which also applies to the police. The word menaces has a definition of its own: menace includes a threat of an injury, accusation or detriment of any kind to be caused or to be made against any person either by the offender or by any other person if the demand is not complied with. Other diseases could be spread by coughing and spitting in peoples faces. More viruses may come up besides Coronavirus. We already have a piece of legislationthe Criminal Codethat seems to make more sense for this to be in. We will have this piece of legislation specific to COVID-19 and 113A, which is the amendment in the Public and Environmental Health Act. Why did we not sit down and work out why we could not rationalise this with the Criminal Code so that this matter of coughing or spitting on certain workers could apply much broader so that it was not just for COVID-19 and sat within an existing act? I thought this would be better from a consistency point of view. Having to find an offence in another act does not make a lot of sense. I agree with what is being put forward. To be leaning over someone and helping them, stopping someone from doing something they should not be doing during the emergency crisis time and only doing their job to be spat or coughed on deliberately is a serious offence. Whilst I agree with what the Attorney-General brought forward, why was that not put in the Criminal Code so we had a bit of uniformity? That would give flexibility if we have another virus or reason why coughing and spitting in someones face would be a health issue. I heard all the good things the minister said. I send a special thank you to the people who work in my area in Howard Springs. I thank the minister for allowing the Leader of the Opposition and I to look at the pandemic clinic. Two months ago, when we were worrying about what to do with the INPEX villagegovernment has been concerned about the cost and all sorts of things, which look irrelevant today. The INPEX village is being looked at as a fine example of how to control Coronavirus. One thing I will have in my history books is that we were the first place to show that Coronavirus could be contained when the first people came from Wuhan. They were Australian families. I know people were fearful. I was at the meetings. One of the nicest thingsand I think it was mentioned by you Attorney-Generalwas the children of Good Shepherd Lutheran College wrote out cards for the kids and wished them all the best. They had to pass them off to Di Stevens, the Deputy Chief Health Officer. Even though some were concerned enough to take their kids out of school, the philosophy from Good Shepherd Lutheran College was love your neighbour and help your neighbour. Those kids showed that example.
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