‘Keep yourself to yourself’: Health Minister warns parliamentarians, staff against partying in ACT

Dominic Giannini 22 July 2021 40
Rachel Stephen-Smith

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith is concerned parliament’s return could become a super-spreader event. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has told people travelling to the ACT for parliament to “keep yourself to yourself as much as possible” and avoid partying while in Canberra.

The workforce in Parliament House swells to around 5000 people each day during sitting weeks, and MPs and Senators travel with their staff from all over the country.

There is concern that the upcoming sitting weeks, which recommence on 3 August after the winter break, could become a superspreader event with people travelling back to every Australian jurisdiction.

READ MORE: More Pfizer jabs become available, Queensland remains open to ACT

Ms Stephen-Smith said people from Greater Sydney who want to attend parliament should already be in the ACT undertaking their quarantine period.

There is confusion about COVID-19 rules with directions and health measures from multiple sources, including the ACT’s Chief Health Officer, the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Parliamentary Officers and individual political parties.

But Ms Stephen-Smith said all incoming parliamentarians and their staff would need to abide by the ACT’s restrictions.

“If your jurisdiction, your LGA is subject to stay at home orders, you should be abiding by those. If they are subject to quarantine, you should be abiding by those,” she said.

“Everybody here has a level of responsibility. My message to MPs, to Senators and to their staff is if you are coming to the ACT, please keep yourself to yourself as much as possible.

“Maintain your physical distance from people you do not work directly in an office with, and please do not go out partying in the ACT. Minimise the risk as much as possible.”

Political parties would also be cognisant of their responsibilities and should be sending messages to their staff to avoid going out in groups, socialising and gathering for events, she said.

READ ALSO: It’s taken a decade, but I’m no longer embarrassed to have stayed in Canberra

Ms Stephen-Smith also took a jab at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for holding a press conference without a mask yesterday (22 July) despite being subject to some restrictions after ACT Health granted him an exemption to travel to Canberra.

“I have to say, I probably would not have chosen, if I was the Prime Minister, to have a press conference without a mask on,” she said.

“I am aware that the Prime Minister got specific advice from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer about the various activities that he was going to undertake under the exemption from quarantine, and that did include specific advice about the conduct of press conferences.

“[But] in this situation, he is the person in quarantine, so it was great that everyone else was wearing a mask … and I am sure there was a reasonable amount of distance from those journalists asking questions.”

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40 Responses to ‘Keep yourself to yourself’: Health Minister warns parliamentarians, staff against partying in ACT
Oiledpengu Oiledpengu 12:50 pm 25 Jul 21

Almost a given they will bring Covid to town

Rob Calvert Rob Calvert 11:54 am 25 Jul 21

We don't want them here at the best of times. Tell them to stay home. They threaten our Covid free status and therefore the freedom of movement we currently enjoy. It is inevitable that they will bring infection. In other words F off

Angie Fearon Angie Fearon 11:40 am 25 Jul 21

So... we'd advised not to go to the snow or the coast (no known covid) but the pollies & staffers are ok to come here. Hmmm

Belinda Maiden Belinda Maiden 9:40 am 25 Jul 21

“Keep to yourself as much as possible” sounds scarily similar time Gladys Berejiklian’s Sydney mockdown.

Janelle Patten Janelle Patten 7:51 am 25 Jul 21

Stay away. You all know how to use Zoom now.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:40 pm 24 Jul 21

If the Delta variant is as serious as the political class constantly tell us (and thus justify destroying the livelihoods of many with severe, protracted restrictions), and with vaccination rates still well below where they need to be, it’s difficult to understand why the federal parliament could not and should not run on the much reduced numbers which applied last year.

Important legislation could still be passed and Question Time could still operate.

rsm1105 rsm1105 5:27 pm 24 Jul 21

Definitely agree that a virus with a fatality rate of 0.2% (pre vaccine) and now with an apparently safe and effective vaccine, requires that the processes of the commonwealth government be suspended.

jwinston jwinston 12:54 pm 24 Jul 21

To the NIMBY’s on this site – The city of Canberra was built specifically for the federal government to run the rest of the country from. If you don’t like it – move!

Guy Noble Guy Noble 8:43 am 24 Jul 21

Gladys will have all of Australia in lockdown soon. WTF are we letting them in

Matt Howarth Matt Howarth 8:35 am 24 Jul 21

You’ve got to be kidding, don’t come.

Allyson Wales Allyson Wales 7:32 am 24 Jul 21

Would it be possible to attend remotely? Half our country are working from home so surely our politicians can too

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 7:41 pm 23 Jul 21

Just pull the trigger already for 100km radius..

Cindi Hage Cindi Hage 5:54 pm 23 Jul 21

Why aren’t all the MP’s abiding by the rules in their own State that they expect all of their constituents to do?

Julie Maynard Julie Maynard 5:00 pm 23 Jul 21

If we have been working from home since day one, why can’t they?

Rosie Maclaine Rosie Maclaine 3:52 pm 23 Jul 21

Can’t they do zoom and stay home

Timmy Holness Timmy Holness 2:26 pm 23 Jul 21

A joke and we will suffer for it

Sarah Bell Sarah Bell 2:09 pm 23 Jul 21

Don’t let them travel same rules should apply

Vickie O'Malley Vickie O'Malley 1:52 pm 23 Jul 21

I think it's unnecessary for any of them to be here. Choof them off back to where they live and work from home. Lots are still doing it.

Mal Briggs Mal Briggs 1:37 pm 23 Jul 21

They've all got access to shower facilities and offices. If they must be here, they should bunk in Parliament house. There's plenty of catering.

Jose Vega Jose Vega 12:34 pm 23 Jul 21

Here it comes.... 😱😱😱😱

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