The Public Health and Other Legislation (Further Extension of Expiring Provisions) Amendment Bill 2021 is currently before the Queensland Parliament and proposes to extend a range of COVID emergency legislative measures.
The proposed extension follows previous temporary extensions effected by a series of Acts of Parliament in late 2020 and early 2021, under which the majority of measures are due to expire on 30 September 2021.
If passed, the Bill would extend this legislative expiry date to 30 April 2022, or an earlier date to be prescribed by regulation.
Queensland Law Society broadly supports the proposed extension of these measures, subject to appropriate scrutiny and oversight of the continued extension of extraordinary emergency legislation. QLS appeared at the parliamentary committee hearing on 19 July 2021 to discuss our submission. Read our full submission.
Some of the temporary measures proposed to be further extended include:
- increased powers for emergency officers and the Chief Health Officer to impose restrictions on the movement and interactions of persons, facilitate contact tracing, and enforce quarantine requirements
- amendments relating to attendance requirements for meetings of various groups and agencies and for the conduct of proceedings of courts/tribunals and other bodies (including provisions to facilitate remote attendance, voting, and authorisations using audio or audio-visual links)
- modified notification requirements (allowing electronic notification) for certain proposals for community consultation or for the issuing of notices to individuals
- various amendments relating to planning requirements and environmental approvals
- amendments relating to access to relief measures for tenants and commercial lease holders
- amendments relating to bodies corporate and the manufactured homes sector (including providing for the deferral of fee contributions and limitations on increases to site rent)
- various measures to facilitate the holding of state by-elections and local government by-elections and fresh elections in a COVID-safe manner
- provisions enabling variations to liquor licencing to support temporary takeaway sales by operators of licenced venues disrupted by COVID-19
- public health-related provisions governing the care of persons with a cognitive or intellectual disability, the delivery of mental health services, the operation of prisons and youth detention centres, and related measures.
It is also proposed to extend the Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response— Documents and Oaths) Regulation 2020 which allows the modified requirements or arrangements to continue to apply for the making, signing and witnessing of affidavits and statutory declarations, advance health directives (permitting witnessing by particular nurses), general powers of attorney, deeds and particular mortgages.
The Bill also extends most of the temporary amendments and extraordinary measures put in place in other legislation to manage the broader impact of COVID-19 on businesses, institutions and the economy.
For a full list of measures (including the relevant Acts and regulations) proposed to be extended, see page 6 of the Explanatory Notes. The list includes:
- Corrective Services (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Domestic and Family Violence Protection (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Economic Development (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Family Responsibilities Commission (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response— Community Titles Schemes and Other Matters) Regulation 2020
- Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response— Documents and Oaths) Regulation 2020
- Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response— Proceedings and Other Matters) Regulation 2020
- Manufactured Homes ((Residential Parks) (COVID ER)) Regulation 2020
- Planning (COVID-19 ER) Regulation 2020
- Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 ER) Regulation 2020
- Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases (COVID19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Youth Justice (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Various body corporate and community management regulations and modules
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Wendy Devine is Queensland Law Society Principal Policy Solicitor.