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COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 now in force

Queensland now has an emergency legal response framework which alters aspects of the existing Queensland law to overcome some of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Queensland’s emergency legal response, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020, was introduced into Queensland Parliament and passed on Tuesday 22 April 2020. It received Royal Assent the next day.

The broad intention of the new law is “to facilitate the continuance of public administration, judicial process, small business and other activities disrupted by the COVID-19 emergency, including by easing regulatory requirements and establishing an office of small business commissioner”, as well as providing for alterations to residential and retail tenancies laws.

The new Queensland law is very broad and different to the emergency law passed in New South Wales as it can apply to existing legal requirements in virtually any Act in any Queensland ministerial portfolio.

The new law puts in place a framework for regulations and instruments to be made under any Act to:

  • change requirements for physical attendance at places or meetings
  • provide alternate ways to sign, witness, certify and attest to documents and conduct verification of identity and file or lodge documents
  • modify statutory time limits
  • change how proceedings are conducted and decisions made.

Extraordinary regulations made under the new law generally are deemed to come to an end on 31 December 2020, with a limited power for extension.

The first set of regulations made under the new law was made on Friday 24 April in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020.

QLS expects more regulations to follow shortly as emergency measures alter other aspects of Queensland law.

This story was originally published in Proctor May 2020.

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