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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




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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 8360 compliance with the physical distancing and the quarantine measures. We know it is not easy but with efforts of the entire community, we are having the best possible impact. We think that it is a really important point. There has been a lot of fiery debate in the House today, with people passionately representing their views. The Acting Deputy Speaker is shaking his head; he must have been nodding off. This is about Territorians and saving their lives whether they are in Central Australia, a remote community or an urban area. We still have a long way to go; we must not become complacent. We are on day 18 or 19 of no new cases. We hope there will be no new cases but the virus is not one that can be readily or easily controlled. We have observed in other jurisdictions that it only takes one case to lead to a significant outbreak, close hospitals and have tragic consequences. We must continue with our effective measures to reduce the risk of community transmission and only adjust those measures in a carefully staged and well-planned manner based on the best health advice. This bill formalises the charging of fees for quarantine by: empowering the Chief Health Officer with a new power, as section 52A, effective from 4 April, and a maximum fee set in a new regulation creating a new offence of intentional coughing or spitting on or at workers where the conduct is likely to cause fear of potential spread of COVID-19 to the worker, under new section 113A some technical amendments in making operational improvements. I will not recap the points made earlier. We highlighted the fees that will be charged. The quarantine requirement is not the same as the Biosecurity Act. That is an important point. For people travelling within the Territory and wishing to return to a remote community, that is a separate arrangement. That is made by the Minister for Territory Families through the remote travel welfare group. The coughing and spitting billwe have seen other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales through its Public Health Act, make a ministerial order with a $5000 on-the-spot fine. We spoke about the consultation with the bodies that represent the frontline workers but, more broadly, this bill is in place to protect every Territory worker. I thank the Department of Health and the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice for the work they have done. These bills are designed to improve the governance of this unprecedented public health emergency. We have seen excellent work in Darwin, Alice Springs and across the communities. The chief executives of our government departments; the Chief Health Officer, and all the team working with him; the Police Commissioner; and those who work in the public and private sectors have come together in the best interests of Territorians. We acknowledge this dedication and hard work. We acknowledge the expertise of our clinicians involved on the front line against COVID-19, testing and treating people with the greatest of care and the countless people supporting them. That work must continue. There is also the work of the non-government sector. It is important to acknowledge them. I also touched upon businesses. Our efforts are being acknowledged. Yesterday, we saw the NT News headline, We are unique, we are safe. But we must not become complacent. We must work to keep it that way. That is what this legislation is about. In closing, I sincerely thank the officers from the Department of Health, Department of the Attorney-General and Justice and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for the dedicated work they have done for the rapid development and progress of this legislation. Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I commend the bill to the House. Motion agreed to; bill read a second time. Mr MILLS (Blain): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to present without notice the Electoral Amendment Bill 2020