An omnibus Bill will be introduced into State Parliament to extend the timeframe for the COVID-19 legislative amendments, and help keep Western Australians safe.
The further extension will allow the McGowan Government to respond to the challenges of the pandemic, which poses an ongoing threat to the community.
The Bill amends the Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 and the Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, which have been vital to the State’s successful management of the virus.
The amendments will continue to give authorised officers the power to direct a person to take any action reasonably necessary to prevent, control or abate risks associated with COVID-19.
Importantly, they allow WA to implement its border arrangements, put in place quarantining measures that stopped the spread of the virus, and for contact tracing and physical distancing measures in line with health advice.
The amendments also allow for increased penalties for serious assaults and threats against frontline officers in the context of COVID-19 as they work to protect the public.
These increased penalties of up to 10 years’ jail reflect the seriousness of deliberately coughing or spitting on public officers who are trying to help keep the State safe.
The new Bill will seek to extend those necessary provisions for another six months from July 4, 2021 to January 4, 2022.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“COVID-19 is still a threat to the community, and unfortunately these issues are not likely to disappear any time soon. These legislative amendments will ensure the State can respond to the challenges we are facing and keep WA safe and strong.
“This new Bill will extend those powers by another six months to January 4, 2022. It allows us to employ measures that have proven to keep Western Australians safe as we are confronted by an emergency unlike anything we have ever seen before.
“Parliament acted sensibly to ensure these protective powers were initially in place for 12 months, but it is now clear they require a second six-month extension so we can crush the virus and keep WA safe.”
As stated by Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby:
“Western Australia has been under a rolling State of Emergency to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic since March last year.
“It is integral that we ensure our legislative framework to deal with the COVID-19 emergency continues into the immediate future.
“Any gap in these laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will potentially present an unacceptable risk to the health, safety and financial security of Western Australians.”
Emergency Services Minister’s office – 6552 6300