An omnibus Bill has been introduced into the State Parliament seeking to extend the timeframe for the COVID-19 legislative amendments that have helped Western Australia successfully manage the global pandemic and better protect Western Australians.
The COVID-19 Response Legislation Amendment (Extension of Expiring Provisions) Bill 2020 will also ensure that the amendments made to protect and support our emergency and frontline workers will remain in place for longer, providing much-needed certainty.
The Bill amends the Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 and the Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, which had appropriate 12-month sunset clauses from when they came into operation on April 3.
Those Amendment Acts introduced new clauses into the Emergency Management Act to give hazard management officers or authorised officers the necessary ability to direct a person or class of persons to take any action the officer considered reasonably necessary to prevent, control or abate risks associated with COVID-19.
The Acts also increased penalties for serious assaults and threats in the context of COVID-19 against public officers such as frontline workers or police.
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.
These new amendments enabled WA to implement its border arrangements, put in place quarantining measures that stopped the spread of the virus, and allowed contact tracing and physical distancing measures in line with the health advice to better protect Western Australians.
The new Bill will seek to extend those necessary provisions for another six months from April 4, 2021 until October 4, 2021.