A Bill to extend the timeframe for COVID-19 response measures has been introduced into State Parliament, to help protect Western Australians from the virus, which poses an ongoing risk.
The extension will allow the McGowan Government to respond to the challenges of the pandemic in the short term, while vaccination rates increase, and also in the longer term as we navigate a way forward.
The Omnibus Bill amends the Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 and the Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, which have been essential to the State’s successful management of the virus.
The amendments 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.
When vaccination rates have reached a high level and border controls can be further eased, these amendments will be relied upon to keep WA COVID-safe.
The amendments also extend the increased penalties for serious assaults and threats against frontline officers and healthcare workers who continue to work in challenging and ever-evolving circumstances.
The penalties of up to 10 years in 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 January 4 2022 to July 4 2022.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“The Delta variant is a serious threat to our community – it is not a matter of if it will arrive in Western Australia, but when.
“These legislative amendments will ensure the State Government is able to respond to the challenges we are facing and help keep our State safe and strong.
“These powers have been vital to Western Australia’s successful management of the virus, and this extension will help keep us safe now, and allow us to ease border controls with COVID-affected states when the time is right.
“WA is in a remarkable and unique position – behind our safe border controls, we can aim for high vaccination rates and do everything we can to minimise the impact of this deadly virus in our State – when it eventually returns and spreads throughout our community.”
As stated by Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby:
“Extending the rolling State of Emergency to protect our State from the COVID-19 pandemic is not a decision the McGowan Government takes lightly, but we are in extraordinary times.
“This legislative framework has allowed our State to successfully deal with the pandemic, protecting us from the Delta variant.
“It is vital that these powers continue for the health, safety and financial security of Western Australians.
“The threat of COVID-19 is ever-evolving, and in a time of uncertainty and rapid change it is essential we have the ability to adapt to new threats quickly and protect the vulnerable and the frontline workers who keep us safe.”