Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirmed the ACT would accept the Prime Minister’s office of paid pandemic leave under the same scheme available to Victoria if the Territory moves into a State of Emergency due to COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal scheme, which would provide a one-off $1500 “disaster payment” for workers without sick leave, will be offered to other states and territories should circumstances worsen.
“If other states or territories want to enter into a similar arrangement, then I’ll be making that offer to the states and territories if they wish to do that,” Mr Morrison said.
“Of course, they are not facing the same level of challenge. The health advice we had out of Victoria was to do this.”
The recommendation came after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stated that 80 per cent of COVID-19 transmissions in July occurred in the workplace, including industries and sectors that employ a large number of casual workers such as aged care, security and meat processing.
Victoria is currently the only state that has access to pandemic leave, being the only state in a declared State of Disaster, which began at 6:00 pm on Sunday (2 August).
“Of course [we would accept the scheme] but we will do everything we possibly can to avoid a state of disaster in the ACT,” Mr Barr said on Thursday (6 August).
“The carefully considered measures we have implemented in the ACT have delivered the best results of any jurisdiction in this country.”
Mr Barr has previously called on the Federal Government to implement a form of paid pandemic leave, but stated that the ACT was not in the position to implement a form of the scheme itself.
“It does need to be national and it does need to cover a broad base. The second smallest government in Australia cannot provide a scheme on that quantum,” he said last week.
“What we do have is an immediate emergency relief scheme.”
A list of help provided in the ACT, including emergency food relief, can be found at www.covid19.act.gov.au/community/access-help.
The ACT entered its first state of emergency since 2003 in January due to the significant bushfire threat and worsening weather conditions during the Orroral Valley fire.