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Emergency legislation to Protect Territorians

24 March 2020

Parliamentary Sittings resume in Darwin today with debate focusing on emergency legislation to deal with the Northern Territory’s response to COVID-19.

The two pieces of legislation will strengthen the Northern Territory’s pandemic response from a health and fiscal standpoint.

The Emergency Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 amends the Public and Environmental Health Act 2011 to allow declarations of a public health emergency for a period of up to 90 days instead of the current five-day limit. The current limit was designed to cater for emergencies such as cyclones and floods.

The Bill also amends the Information Act 2002 in order allow our government agencies to collect and share information to aid in the Territory’s response and management of the public health emergency.

The changes allow government agencies to operate in the same way as currently exists under the Emergency Management Act that allows the Chief Health Officer to respond to the declared public health emergency of COVID-19.

In order to ensure certainty off the back of the National Cabinet decision to postpone all State and Territory budgets until later in 2020, the Supply Bill 2020 and the Finance Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 will also be introduced and debated on urgency today.

The Bills will provide interim provisions for agency expenditure and ensure the continuation and delivery of essential government services.

Parliamentary Schedule Amendments today:

Parliament will resume as normal, today Tuesday 24 March, at 10am
The traditional two hour lunch adjournment will be shortened to 30 minutes at 12pm
Question time will commence at 12.30pm
The swearing in of the Member for Johnston will be the first order of the day with the Member providing his maiden speech during Adjournments.

Quotes from the Leader of Government Business, Natasha Fyles:

“As a Government we have promised to do whatever it takes to protect Territorians and to protect our community.

“The threat of COVID-19 is real, which is why we have adopted so many extensive social measures. To coincide with that, we need to ensure we have the legislative power to support those measures.

“We’re a Government that acts. We’ve been ahead of the game with our response to COVID-19 and we’ll continue to act in the best interests of all Territorians.”

Media contact: Hannah West 0436 641 108

This media release can be found here.

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