I am pleased to introduce the COVID-19 Emergency Response (Expiry) (No. 2) Amendment Bill 2021. Measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have been fundamental to this state's ongoing successful response to the pandemic to keep the community safe. A declaration of major emergency, in place since 22 March 2020 (last year), provides the authorising context for the important social distancing and public health measures issued by the State Coordinator through directions.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 amended South Australian legislation to temporarily adjust some legislative requirements that are difficult to satisfy during a pandemic. The COVID act came into effect in April 2020 last year and will expire on 31 May. This bill proposes to extend the operation of the COVID act to 28 days after the day on which all relevant declarations relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 within South Australia have ceased or 17 September 2021, whichever is the earlier.
While it is essential that the COVID act be extended, there are a number of measures that were implemented in the early days of the pandemic that are no longer necessary. As a result, I will be expiring the following provisions of the COVID act as of 31 May 2021:
section 14, which allows for an extension of time limit and terms of appointment;
schedule 1, which contains special provisions relating to the detention of certain protected persons during the COVID-19 pandemic;
part A1 of schedule 2, which reverses the presumption of bail for certain offences;
part B1 of schedule 2, which amends the Development Act 1993;
clause 3(a) of part 3 of schedule 2, which modifies the process of the Public Works Committee; and
part 3A of schedule 2, which amends the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.
In short, all those matters will expire at 31 May. Sections 8, 9 and 10, which deal with residential tenancies, residential parks and supported residential facilities, will also expire on 30 June. This gives a reasonable notice period for those who are still using these provisions. It will also allow transitional regulations to be made for SACAT orders made under these provisions.
There is also a bill, I remind members, currently before the parliament which makes a number of provisions of the COVID act permanent. Once that bill passes through the parliament, indeed if it does, the respective provisions of the COVID act will also be expired. Once the provisions that are no longer necessary are expired, there will be just a few provisions left in the COVID act, and these include:
1. Amendments to the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 to expand the offences against prescribed emergency workers, to include people working in pharmacies and providing pharmacy services;
2. Amendments to the Emergency Management Act 2004 to clarify the scope of directions given by the State Coordinator and authorised officers under section 25.
Extending these provisions is necessary for the ongoing management of the risk of COVID-19 in South Australia. Where the COVID act was first introduced, a number of initiatives were needed to support South Australians who were doing it tough and better protect the community. Things have changed significantly and there is now no need for many of these measures. However, we are not yet returned to a pre-pandemic way of life and it is necessary to have certain measures in place to assist in the management of the pandemic by the State Coordinator and to protect our emergency workers, especially those who are administering the vaccine.
I indicate to all members that there has been considerable consultation of course with a number of relevant parties in the health department and of course our State Coordinator, who is our police commissioner. Our emergency response to date has kept South Australians safe and strong, and I commend this bill to members and seek leave to insert the explanation of clauses.
Explanation of Clauses
These clauses are formal.
Part 2—Amendment of COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020
3—Amendment of section 6—Expiry of Act
This clause amends section 6 of the principal Act to extend the date on which the Act expires to 17 September 2021.
Debated adjourned on motion of Mr Picton.