18 August 2022

ACT records 384 new COVID-19 cases; Speaker rebukes claims Assembly had no COVID-19 safety plans

| Lottie Twyford
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Legislative Assembly

WorkSafe ACT slapped multiple prohibition notices on the Legislative Assembly, stopping estimates from getting underway as scheduled. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT has recorded 384 new COVID-19 infections as the Speaker and Clerk of the ACT Legislative Assembly hit out at claims the building had no COVID-19 safety plans in place.

This week’s estimates hearings were scrapped after WorkSafe ACT slapped prohibition notices on the Assembly. Those notices stopped committee meetings and hearings from going ahead essentially because workers had not been consulted and a COVID-19 risk assessment had not been completed for the estimates hearings.

In the background was a stoush between the committee and the government over whether estimates should take place face-to-face or remotely.

Speaker Joy Burch and Clerk Tom Duncan have labelled some media reports which have claimed the Assembly did not have a COVID-19 safety plan in place as “unequivocally and factually incorrect”.

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They said the Assembly has had a COVID-19 safety plan in place since June 2020.

“All risk control measures are implemented as per this plan, inclusive of appropriate numbers of persons per [room] in the Assembly based on ACT Health COVID-19 guidelines. The plan is regularly reviewed and updated by both the Legislative Assembly Work Health and Safety Committee and the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure,” their joint statement said.

Both the Speaker and the Clerk of the Assembly take COVID-19 safety very seriously and have provided COVID-safe updates to all members and staff of the Legislative Assembly regularly throughout the pandemic. All COVID-safe measures will continue and as has been the practice since 2020, all necessary efforts will be taken to ensure the safety of members and staff in the Assembly.”

Estimates are expected to get underway on Monday morning (22 August).

Joy Burch

Speaker Joy Burch on Monday threatened legal action over the prohibition notice which blocked the legislative arm of the government from inquiring into the Budget. Photo: Facebook.

Active cases have fallen to 2171.

Since the pandemic began, 199,673 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Territory.

Hospitalisations have remained relatively steady over recent days. There are now 126 patients in hospital with COVID. Of these, two are in ICU, but no one requires ventilation.

Yesterday, the Territory recorded 425 cases and two deaths, and there were 136 patients in hospital.

Vaccination updates are published weekly on Fridays by ACT Health.

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Interstate, NSW has reported 43 deaths overnight and 8149 new cases of COVID-19.

There are now 2046 people in hospital with the virus and 54 patients in ICUs around the state.

NSW Health says 16 of those reported deaths were notified through the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages and may not have occurred during the reporting period.

Victoria has recorded 46 deaths overnight and 4416 cases of COVID-19.

There are 497 people hospitalised with the virus and 27 patients in the state’s intensive care units.

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Tom Worthington3:21 pm 18 Aug 22

Where is the ACT Assembly COVID-19 safety plan?

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