Response to submissions to the inquiry provided by Queensland Health
Health and Environment Committee
23 Sep 2022
Correspondence

Page 1

Health and Environment Committee inquiry into the Public Health and Other

Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

Departmental response to issues raised in written submissions

The Health and Environment Committee has published 57 public submissions as part of its inquiry into the Public

Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022 (Bill). A list of the submissions

published on the Committee’s website on 20 September 2022 is provided in the table below.

Queensland Health’s response addresses the issues raised in the submissions. Due to the number of

submissions received, the departmental response addresses the key themes and issues raised rather than

responding to each individual submission.

As the Bill extends certain temporary legislative measures under the Corrective Services Act 2006, Queensland

Corrective Services (QCS) has provided responses to submissions about aspects of the Bill that fall within the

administrative responsibility of QCS.

Submissions

1 - Name Withheld 30 - Name Withheld

2 - Carers Queensland Ltd 31 - Name Withheld

3 - Nerida Barrett 32 - Name Withheld

4 - Australian Dental Association Queensland Branch 33 - Name Withheld

5 - AMA Queensland (AMAQ) 34 - Queensland Peoples' Protest

6 - Youssef Youssef 35 - Bee Cassidy

7 - West Moreton Health 36 - Juliana Guinane

8 - Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union (QNMU) 37 – Confidential

9 - Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) 38 - Name Withheld

10 - The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch 39 - Jayson Daldy

11 - Australian Retailers Association 40 - Name Withheld

12 - Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) 41 – Confidential

13 - Queensland Law Society (QLS) 42 - Prisoners' Legal Service

14 - Adriana Marsh 43 - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of

Psychiatrists Queensland Branch (RANZCP Qld)

15 - Jean Koek 44 - Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP)

16 - Jannisse Phillis 45 - Kerri-Ann Watson

17 - Mark Ruge 46 - Natalie Monos

18 - Name Withheld 47 – Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL)

19 - Sarah Ryan 48 - ADA Australia

20 - Name Withheld 49 - Garry Nichols

21 - Kym Woods 50 - Name Withheld

22 - Name Withheld 51 - Christine Keys

23 - Marilyn and Richard Kulpinski 52 - Amanda Elliott

24 - Name Withheld 53 - Rhonda Marriage

25 – Confidential 54 - Libby Ward

26 - Name Withheld 55 - Adrian Vasington

27 - Name Withheld 56 - Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

(RACGP)

28 - Latisha Ryder 57 - Australian College of Nursing (ACN)

29 - Name Withheld

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

Page 2

Submissions Issue Response

2 – Carers Queensland

4 – Australian Dental

Association Queensland

Branch

5 – AMAQ

8 – QNMU

9 – QHRC

10 – Pharmacy Guild of

Australia

11 – Australian Retailers

Association

12 – OHO

13 – QLS

43 – RANZP (Qld)

44 – ACNP

57– ACN

Support for the Bill

Several stakeholders expressed strong support for the Bill. AMAQ endorsed the Bill’s

proposed step-down approach, including providing the Chief Health Officer with more

targeted powers to issue public health directions about isolation and quarantine, mask-

wearing and vaccination of workers in vulnerable and high-risk settings, which AMAQ

considers necessary for the ongoing management of COVID-19 and the protection of

vulnerable Queenslanders. The Australian Retail Association supported the Bill and

agreed it is a proportionate policy response to assist Queenslanders in living and working

with COVID-19 by allowing more targeted measures, with higher thresholds, to effectively

manage the ongoing health risks to the community. The ACN welcomed all measures in

the Bill to keep the evolving impacts of COVID-19 under control and acknowledged the

comprehensive work undertaken to ensure the Bill complies with the Human Rights Act

2019.

Many stakeholders expressed broad support for the Bill or did not raise any significant

issues or concerns.

Some stakeholders expressed support for specific aspects of the Bill and the proposed

legislative framework for managing COVID-19. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia

supported the proposal to manage COVID-19 as a notifiable condition, without requiring

a public health emergency to be declared. QHRC supported the range of measures

proposed in the Bill to enhance transparency of decision-making and ensure appropriate

parliamentary scrutiny of human rights, while offering suggested improvements to these

and other aspects.

Queensland Health notes the broad support for the Bill, including the proposed step-down approach

and the inclusion of tailored measures and safeguards to manage COVID-19 as a notifiable condition

until 31 October 2023.

1, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27,

29-33, 38, 40, 50 – Names

withheld

3 – Nerida Barrett

6 – Youssef Youssef

8 – QNMU

9 – QHRC

14 – Adriana Marsh

15 – Jean Koek

16 – Jannisse Phillis

17 – Mark Ruge

19 – Sarah Ryan

21 – Kym Woods

28 – Latisha Ryder

34 – Queensland Peoples’

Protest

Opposition to or general concerns with the Bill

Some stakeholders considered the powers that will be available to the Chief Health

Officer under the Bill are too broad, while others expressed concern that the powers may

not be broad enough.

Some stakeholders from health, aged care and disability support sectors raised concerns

about the extent to which the powers of the Chief Health Officer to make public health

directions are proposed to be limited. QNMU raised concerns that the limited powers in

the Bill may not be sufficient to respond to future pandemics or public health

emergencies.

Several stakeholders were opposed to any legislation that would continue to authorise

the use of public health directions or other regulatory interventions to respond to manage

the risks of COVID-19.

QCCL noted that while the powers in the Bill are considerably narrower and therefore

represent a considerable improvement from previous COVID-19 laws, they should not

proceed for various reasons. For example, QCCL stated the Bill should not proceed

because there are no criteria for when the COVID-19 powers would no longer be

necessary, the emergency situation no longer exists and the powers in the Bill set a

precedent of government overreach.

Queensland Health acknowledges stakeholders have strong views about the Government’s legislative

response to COVID-19. Queensland Health also acknowledges that other jurisdictions have taken

different approaches to managing COVID-19. Ultimately, it is a matter for Parliament to determine the

legislative approach that should be adopted to manage the ongoing risks of COVID-19 in Queensland.

Queensland Health notes the Government’s successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic has

mitigated the impact of COVID-19 on our health system and the community, particularly in relation to

the three waves of Omicron experienced in Queensland to date. The proposed legislative measures

are those considered necessary to continue to mitigate these risks while supporting Queensland’s

ongoing transition to living with COVID-19.

Comments about the temporary framework

COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable. Given the COVID-19 environment is still in a state of constant

change and there remain many unknowns in how the virus may impact the health system and

community in the future, including the long-term and cumulative impacts of repeat COVID-19

infections, temporary amendments are considered most appropriate at this time. In contrast to

enacting permanent legislation to respond to COVID-19 or future pandemics, enacting limited

provisions for twelve months ensures Government is only legislating measures that are likely to be

needed in the near future. This allows a more targeted approach, with a limited range of powers that

are narrowly defined.

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Submissions Issue Response

35 – Bee Cassidy

36 – Juliana Guinane

39 – Jayson Daldy

45 – Kerri-Ann Watson

46 – Natalie Monos

47 – QCCL

49 – Garry Nichols

52 – Amanda Elliott

53 – Rhonda Marriage

54 – Libby Ward

55 – Adrian Vasington

Some stakeholders, including QHRC, indicated support for permanent pandemic or

COVID-19 powers. A number of submissions expressed support for a model based in

whole or in part on permanent pandemic legislation adopted in Victoria under part 8A of

the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic).

A number of stakeholders supported the expiry of the emergency legislative framework

but disagreed with the continuation of the public health measures in the Bill.

Scope of the public health measures

The Bill replaces the current temporary emergency framework with more targeted and limited powers

to manage COVID-19 as a notifiable condition under the Public Health Act 2005 (Public Health Act)

for the next twelve months. The Bill strikes a balance based on the best public health evidence

available about COVID-19 by retaining powers most likely needed to respond to serious risks posed

by COVID-19, while ensuring powers are proportionate and recognising the role of individuals in

managing ongoing risks.

The Bill limits the types of public health directions the Chief Health Officer may give to directions about

masks, isolation of confirmed cases and quarantine of symptomatic close contacts, and vaccination of

workers in high-risk settings. These targeted measures remain important to Queensland’s approach

to managing the ongoing risks of COVID-19 and have proven effective at protecting vulnerable cohorts

within the community while preserving health system capacity.

In particular:

• Masks are a key protective measure to reduce the risk of people contracting and transmitting

COVID-19, particularly in indoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Mask

requirements can be implemented more rapidly, with relatively less impact, than other more

prescriptive measures used to respond to serious risks posed by COVID-19.

• The proposed isolation and quarantine powers are consistent with Queensland’s current approach

to managing diagnosed cases and close contacts based on national guidelines developed by the

Communicable Diseases Network Australia. Limiting the duration for which persons can be

required to isolate or quarantine to seven days will ensure that public health directions about these

matters are narrowly tailored to managing ongoing risks to the community and do not unnecessarily

infringe human rights.

• Vaccination has proven to be an important factor in protecting the community, especially

vulnerable cohorts, from the severity of COVID-19. Retaining the ability to require vaccination for

workers in particular settings, such as aged care and disability accommodation, is proportionate to

the ongoing risk posed by COVID-19, particularly to vulnerable cohorts.

It is acknowledged that some stakeholders would prefer the Chief Health Officer retain broader powers

to respond to the ongoing risks to the community and health system. However, based on the current

trajectory of COVID-19, these broader powers are unlikely to be needed. Instead, as Queensland

continues to adapt to living with COVID-19, it is considered appropriate to adopt a more limited

legislative framework than was necessary during the initial stages of the pandemic. In particular, the

revised framework proposed to be inserted by the Bill focuses on managing the ongoing risks of

COVID-19 and impacts on the community and health system rather than seeking to contain or

suppress COVID-19 from circulating in the community.

The revised scope of public health measures is also consistent with the current public health focus on

managing COVID-19 and community behaviour. Individuals are taking more responsibility to self-

manage COVID-19 as time goes on, with government only stepping in where necessary to preserve

the health and safety of Queenslanders and the public health system.

For example, the Bill does not include the ability for the Chief Health Officer to restrict access to

vulnerable facilities. The ability for the Chief Health Officer to restrict access to facilities was an

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

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Submissions Issue Response

extreme but necessary measure taken during the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic when

risks were severe, unpredictable and very difficult to manage. In the current environment, operators

of facilities are much more experienced and better able to manage the risks of COVID-19.

Stakeholders have correctly pointed out that the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 may mean that

the pandemic could significantly worsen in the future, or a new threat could be identified. If this

situation were to occur or if broader powers were required, Parliament may need to enact additional

legislation. This is considered appropriate to ensure any additional measures required would be

tailored to the particular threat and no broader than necessary to manage those particular situations.

This also avoids hypothetical powers being enacted that may never be used and may be inappropriate

to the threat if one arises.

Queensland Health acknowledges that some stakeholders are concerned that individuals and

organisations are not yet at a point where they can completely self-manage COVID-19 and therefore

believe broader powers should be retained by the Chief Health Officer, in particular to restrict access

to facilities that serve vulnerable cohorts. The Bill does retain limited powers for the Chief Health

Officer to require visitors to vulnerable facilities to wear masks and to restrict access by symptomatic

close contacts or people who have recently completed a period of isolation or quarantine. Queensland

Health will also continue to support the aged care and disability sectors by providing up-to-date

guidance and other assistance to allow them to effectively manage COVID-19.

The limited powers proposed to be retained by the Bill are the measures considered most likely to be

needed to manage the risks of COVID-19 for the next twelve months, based on the best public health

evidence available. This is consistent with the targeted measures that are currently in place in

Queensland including mask wearing in high-risk settings, isolation/quarantine and vaccination for

workers in vulnerable or high-risk settings.

The Chief Health Officer will not be able to close Queensland’s borders, institute lockdowns or impose

other restrictions on movement and gatherings. This is also consistent with the current public health

response to COVID-19.

The Bill provides an enabling framework. It does not require that any particular restrictions be imposed

but enables a proportionate response tailored to the Queensland context. The framework will allow

targeted public health measures to be introduced, adjusted and removed quickly according to the

level of health risk in the Queensland community or to the public health system. The framework does

not require powers to be exercised if the risk level is low.

8 – QNMU

9 – QHRC

13 – QLS

47 – QCCL

48 – ADA Australia

57 - ACN

Safeguards and limitations

ACN agreed with the safeguards and limitations in the Bill, including the requirement for

a justification statement for a public health direction, requirement for the Chief Health

Officer to consider human rights impacts, requirement for the Chief Health Officer to

revoke a public health direction if it is no longer necessary, and inability for the Chief

Health Officer to delegate particular functions or powers.

ADA Australia suggested that proposed sections 142E (Power to give public health

direction) and 142F (Public health direction may include related requirements) of the

Public Health Act need further review and that additional safeguards are needed to

The range of safeguards and limitations provided by the Bill recognises the impact public health

measures may have on human rights and responds to stakeholder feedback on this Bill and previous

COVID-19 legislation. The proposed safeguards and limitations include:

• When making public health directions, the Chief Health Officer is required to consider the impact

on human rights.

• The public health direction powers may only be exercised by the Chief Health Officer and cannot

be delegated.

• Before issuing a direction, the Chief Health Officer must have a reasonable belief that the direction

is necessary to prevent or respond to a serious risk to the public health system or the community

as a result of COVID-19 or is needed to give effect to a decision or agreement of National Cabinet

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

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Submissions Issue Response

prevent inappropriate or disproportionate impacts on the rights of persons residing in

institutional facilities.

QNMU highlighted that the mechanisms for promoting transparency and scrutiny of

directions must not impede the ability to quickly respond to future outbreaks of COVID-

19.

QLS stated that decisions about exemptions under a public health direction should be

reviewable, and that directions should expire 60 days after taking effect.

QHRC, while generally supportive of the proposed safeguards and limitations in the Bill,

proposed the following to further protect human rights:

• Requiring public health directions to be tabled within five days of being given, instead

of 21 days as proposed. QHRC considers that allowing five days to table a direction

would be a more appropriate timeframe to allow time for the parliamentary

committee to report on the direction and Parliament to consider disallowing the

direction.

• Including a mechanism for persons subject to quarantine or isolation to seek an

independent review of their situation, as is provided under legislation in Victoria, and

to ensure humane treatment of persons required to quarantine or isolate in hotel or

other state-operated facilities. At a minimum, QHRC suggests that timely review

measures should be available for persons in government-operated quarantine or

isolation. QHRC also suggests consideration be given to providing a right of review

to persons subject to worker vaccination requirements under a public health

direction.

• Establishing an automatic statutory exemption for persons to obtain medical

treatment to preserve their quality of life. QHRC notes that public health directions

have routinely included exceptions for these situations but considers that an

automatic exemption would provide more meaningful protection for persons who

may be disproportionately affected by restrictions on movement, such as persons

with a disability who need to access care or support.

QCCL supported that the detention of persons should be the subject of review, with an

appeal mechanism to a Magistrates Court. QCCL noted its support for Victoria’s

pandemic legislation, which includes a right of appeal to an independent review officer

however noted QCCL’s preference for appeals to be considered by a Magistrate.

While QCCL welcomed the requirement of the Chief Health Officer to publish a

justification statement, including human rights considerations, QCCL requested

clarification as whether directions issued by the Chief Health Officer are reviewable under

section 58 of the Human Rights Act.

or advice or recommendation of a COVID-19 advisory body, such as the Australian Health

Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

• The Chief Health Officer must publish a justification statement containing a summary of the

rationale for each public health direction and an assessment of the direction’s compatibility with

human rights.

• A public health direction must be tabled in Parliament within 21 calendar days after it is notified

on the Queensland Health website or in the gazette and is subject to referral to a Parliamentary

Committee and disallowance.

• If at any time the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that a direction is no longer necessary to prevent

or respond to a serious risk to the public health system or community, or the direction is no longer

needed to give effect to a decision or agreement of National Cabinet or advice or recommendation

of a COVID-19 advisory body, the direction must be revoked.

• Directions to isolate or quarantine can only apply to persons who have tested positive to COVID-

19 or are a symptomatic close contact, and only for periods of up to seven days.

• Vaccination-related requirements included in a direction must be limited to workers in particular

settings. Personal visitors and family members visiting residents of aged care facilities will not be

required to be vaccinated to enter the facility.

• Directions must state the period during which they apply and that non-compliance with the

direction is an offence.

• A direction will expire 90 days after it takes effect.

• A person will be given an opportunity to voluntarily comply with a direction before an authorised

person can enforce a public health direction.

• A person who fails to comply with a direction does not commit an offence if they have a reasonable

excuse for not complying.

• Directions may include exceptions and safeguards to minimise adverse impacts on human rights

and other interests. For example, a person who is required to isolate maybe permitted to leave

isolation to obtain medical supplies.

Queensland Health considers that the protections set out above place significant constraints on the

exercise of temporary public health powers, provide meaningful opportunities for public and

parliamentary scrutiny of public health directions, and minimise potential limitations on human rights.

These combined safeguards and limitations achieve an appropriate balance between the need to

protect individual rights and liberties and the need to ensure that government can continue to protect

the health system and community from serious risks of COVID-19 and implement nationally agreed

public health measures. These protections are also proportionate to the exercise of these targeted

powers outside of an emergency response.

Specific proposals in the submissions about the inclusion of additional or different safeguards or

limitations in the Bill are addressed below.

Timeframe for tabling of public health directions

The proposed timeframe for tabling a public health direction ensures sufficient time to comply with

formal requirements for tabling statutory instruments in the Legislative Assembly and will ensure that

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

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Submissions Issue Response

public health directions do not prematurely cease to have effect in the event of any delays during the

tabling process. The proposed timeframe of 21 calendar days is considerably shorter than the 14

parliamentary sitting days by which most other types of legislative instruments must be tabled.

Although directions must be tabled within 21 calendar days, it is expected they will be tabled earlier

when practicable. In addition, separate from the tabling requirements, directions must be published

before they can take effect, and their supporting justification statement must be published within five

days of the direction being given. The effect of these publication requirements is that Parliament will

be able to begin its consideration of public health directions before these documents are formally

tabled.

Timeframe for expiry of public health directions

Providing for public health directions to automatically expire after 90 days (instead of a shorter

timeframe such as 60 days) will provide greater certainty for the community. The Chief Health Officer

is required to revoke a public health direction immediately if at any time the basis for giving the

direction no longer exists.

Application of Human Rights Act

The Bill applies the full suite of safeguards that apply to subordinate legislation under the Human

Rights Act to the making of public health directions. This elevates the consideration of human rights

and increases the transparency and accountability of public health directions.

To improve transparency in relation to human rights considerations, the Bill states the Chief Health

Officer must publish a statement justifying each direction. The justification statement will set out the

reasons for making the direction. It must also include the Chief Health Officer’s assessment of whether

the direction is compatible with human rights recognised under the Human Rights Act. This

information will better inform the public about the factors considered when determining the

appropriate measures to respond to COVID-19.

The amendments also expose public health directions to parliamentary scrutiny, including

disallowance and review through the Parliamentary Committee process.

As the Bill does not disapply any provision of the Human Rights Act, section 58 will apply to decisions

of an administrative nature in implementing public health directions.

Review rights

The Bill does not include a specific process for individuals to seek review of decisions made under a

public health direction. However, in administering the legislative provisions, the Chief Health Officer

and Queensland Health must comply with relevant legal requirements, including requirements of

natural justice and procedural fairness. Also, the Bill does not prevent a person from seeking review

under the Judicial Review Act 1991.

In contrast to legislation adopted in other jurisdictions, the Bill does not provide broad powers to detain

persons and provides that a person may only be required to quarantine or isolate for periods of up to

seven days. Based on Queensland’s current approach to isolation and quarantine, which is based on

national recommendations, it is unlikely that individuals will be required to quarantine or isolate in

government-operated premises as occurred during earlier stages of the pandemic. In this context, it

is considered that providing additional statutory review mechanisms or conferring extraordinary

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Submissions Issue Response

jurisdiction on Magistrates Courts to review individual isolation or quarantine arrangements is not

reasonably necessary to protect human rights and is not justified in light of the administrative burden

and costs this would impose for government agencies and the courts.

As noted above, the Bill includes a range of safeguards and procedural protections to ensure that the

power to issue public health directions is used appropriately and in a manner that does not

unnecessarily or arbitrarily infringe individual rights.

In addition, it is expected that where appropriate, public health directions under the new framework

will continue to provide exceptions as part of the direction. For example, exceptions may provide that

a direction does not apply to specific categories of individuals or in particular places or circumstances.

This recognises there are situations where the requirements of the public health directions would not

be suitable. For example, a direction may allow a person to leave isolation in the event of an

emergency or not require a person to wear a mask in particular circumstances such as if the person

has a medical condition or disability.

The Bill also makes clear a person who fails to comply with a direction does not commit an offence if

they have a reasonable excuse for not complying. If a person is issued with a penalty infringement

notice or prosecuted for breaching a public health direction, they may challenge the charge in court.

Other comments about safeguards and limitations

The suggestion that the Bill provide automatic exemptions from public health directions in certain

circumstances is addressed under the theme Exceptions and exemptions from requirements under a

public health direction.

1, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27,

29-33, 38, 40, 50 – Name

Withheld

23 – Marilyn and Richard

Kulpinski

34 – Queensland

Peoples’ Protest

35 – Bee Cassidy

39 – Jayson Daldy

47 – QCCL

55 – Adrian Vasington

57 – ACN

Compatibility with human rights

Some submissions from individuals expressed the view that the public health measures

in the Bill impose limitations on human rights that are unjustified or that should be subject

to additional statutory and administrative safeguards.

Many of the individual submissions that raised human rights concerns did not engage

with the statement of compatibility for the Bill or offer any analysis as to whether any

potential interference with human rights is reasonably necessary to protect the health,

safety and welfare of the community during an ongoing pandemic. Most of the

submissions simply state that the measures in the Bill have limited and will continue to

limit human rights.

ACN acknowledged the comprehensive and painstaking work undertaken to ensure the

Bill complies with the Human Rights Act and supported the requirement for the Chief

Health Officer to consider human rights impacts when making public health directions.

ACN discussed the rights of older people to have good health and that carers have the

right to continued good health and to maintain the ability to perform their role safely. ACN

considered mandating vaccines for those visitors and family members supports those

rights.

Queensland Health considers the Bill is compatible with human rights for the reasons set out in the

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights.1 The State has a fundamental obligation to ensure the

right to life of its citizens. Protecting public health is a legitimate objective which is sufficiently

explained in the Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights. While there have been instances

where other human rights, such as the right to freedom of movement, have had to be restricted, these

restrictions have been necessary to save lives and to protect the health and safety of Queenslanders

during an unprecedented global pandemic.

Queensland Health takes seriously its obligations under the Human Rights Act and is committed to

ensuring that the exercise of emergency powers does not limit human rights more than is necessary

to achieve the legitimate purposes of the Bill. Queensland Health gives careful consideration to

ensuring potential limitations on human rights are justified during the development of all COVID-19

legislation, including primary legislation, subordinate legislation, statutory instruments and public

health directions issued under the Public Health Act.

The focus of the Bill is on ensuring only the most critical measures needed to respond to COVID-19

are available.

The Bill aims to promote human rights to the greatest extent possible while still meeting the

Government’s ultimate responsibility to protect the health and safety of its citizens.

1 Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022, Statement of Compatibility, available at Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022 — Human Rights Statement of Compatibility - Queensland Legislation - Queensland Government

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Submissions Issue Response

QCCL raised the following points about the impact the measures in the Bill may have on

human rights:

• isolation and quarantine requirements are no longer necessary as people are now

aware they must stay home when sick;

• mask requirements violate the fundamental right to communicate, particularly given

the limited evidence that masks reduce infection;

• mandatory vaccinations must include a conscientious objection provision in order to

respect bodily integrity; and

• there is no justification for vaccinate mandates given it has limited impact on

transmissibility.

The Bill embeds a range of safeguards to ensure that potential adverse impacts on human rights are

no greater than necessary to manage the ongoing health risks of COVID-19, as explained above under

the theme Safeguards and limitations.

13 – QLS

14 – Adriana Marsh

16 – Jannisse Phillis

17 – Mark Ruge

19 – Sarah Ryan

20, 24, 26, 29, 31, 38 –

Name Withheld

21 – Kym Woods

23 – Marilyn and Richard

Kulpinski

28 – Latisha Ryder

45 – Kerri-Ann Watson

46 – Natalie Monos

47 – QCCL

48 – ADA Australia

52 – Amanda Elliott

53 – Rhonda Marriage

54 – Libby Ward

The Chief Health Officer’s decision-making processes (including determination of

‘serious risk’ to public health system or community)

Several individuals and organisations stated that the Chief Health Officer is an unelected

official and/or a person with no medical training, and therefore should not be empowered

to decide whether public health directions are required.

QLS noted the Bill does not contain a definition of ‘serious risk.’ QLS considers it

important that as much information as possible be provided to the public to justify

decisions and directions and would welcome further information about how the Chief

Health Officer will determine when COVID-19 poses a serious risk to the public health

system or community. QLS stated that once a decision is made, the rationale for the

decision should be published.

ADA Australia supports the power of the Chief Health Officer to continue to make public

health directions but considers that more clarity is required in relation to the operation of

section 142E (relating to isolation and quarantine periods), and possible requirements

directed towards operators of institutional settings under section 142F (Public health

direction may include related requirements) of the Bill.

The Chief Health Officer is a statutory appointment and accountable in existing government structures.

Consistent with the requirement under section 52 of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, the

Chief Health Officer is a medical practitioner.2 The Chief Health Officer reports to the Director-General

of Queensland Health and the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services. Therefore, the decision-

maker is still within the existing structures of and accountable to the Queensland Government. The

Bill also provides that the Chief Health Officer cannot delegate the power to make public health

directions.

The Chief Health Officer is considered best placed to assess the public health impacts of COVID-19

and to determine whether a public health direction is needed, including the nature and specific details

of any such direction. The uncertain nature of the pandemic and the unpredictability of emerging

variants requires the Chief Health Officer to draw upon the breadth of experience locally, nationally,

and internationally, and to consider factors that may change over time, when assessing the

seriousness of a particular risk of COVID-19. This requires relative weight to be given to

epidemiological information, the capacity of the hospital and health system, the latest evidence about

the course of the virus, available treatments, and community behaviour. The Chief Health Officer is

best placed to make these decisions in an environment where the data is continually changing, and

new information is constantly coming to light.

For similar reasons, ‘serious risk’ is not defined in the Bill as requested by some stakeholders. There

is no simple formula that determines what constitutes a serious risk and when protective measures

are needed. Assessing the risk posed to the community and the health system requires a continual

assessment of epidemiological data, the likely efficacy of existing protective measures, community

behaviour and public health system impacts. This assessment is appropriately committed to the expert

judgment of the Chief Health Officer, acting on the most up-to-date evidence and public health advice.

For example, in determining whether measures are needed to respond to a serious risk to the public

health system, the Chief Health Officer could take into consideration factors such as the number of

hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, ICU numbers and staff furlough numbers to determine

if the threshold of ‘serious risk’ is met.

2 Chief Health Officer | Queensland Health

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Submissions Issue Response

Alternatively, a new variant may pose a serious risk to the community or public health system. If a new

variant was to emerge with high immune escape and/or high mortality rate, or severe reactions, it may

be necessary to impose public health directions to protect the Queensland community.

To ensure appropriate scrutiny and oversight of the Chief Health Officer’s power to make public health

directions, the Bill inserts requirements for a direction and its justification statement to be tabled in

Parliament and reviewed by a relevant parliamentary committee. Directions can also be disallowed by

Parliament.

Similar to how directions are currently made under the emergency framework, it is expected directions

made under the Bill would include sufficient details about the applicability of a direction, including for

example further detail about the requirements of facility operators to maintain a record of workers’

vaccination statuses.

2 – Carers Queensland

22 – Name Withheld

23 - Marilyn and Richard

Kulpinski

57 – ACN

Impact and application of public health directions

Some stakeholders raised concerns that some terms used in the Bill have not been

defined, allowing the Chief Health Officer to determine the meaning of phrases in the

public health directions.

Carers Queensland welcomed the exclusion of carers who have a familial or personal

relationship from the definition of worker in the Bill.

ACN noted concerns about the lack of organisation-wide consistency regarding mask-

wearing in correctional facilities, where nurses and health care staff were mandated to

wear masks, while wardens and other staff at the facility were not. The ACN requested

that this inconsistency should be considered when implementing any further legislation.

Other issues raised in relation to the impact of public health directions included whether

hospital and health system processes could be better managed so that the COVID-19

response does not detract from other necessary hospital and health services, and

whether the impact of public health restrictions outweighs the benefits of their

continuation.

Queensland Health acknowledges that public health directions and other public health measures can

have a significant impact on individuals and businesses. Queensland Health always seeks to strike the

right balance between those impacts and the need to protect public health.

The Bill includes a range of safeguards in the Public Health Act to mitigate the impact of public health

measures including that the Chief Health Officer must revoke a public health direction as soon as it no

longer meets the criteria for being exercised.

Queensland Health considers that the content of particular public health directions is outside the scope

of the Bill. However, the following information is provided to assist the Committee.

The Bill provides the scope of the Chief Health Officer power to issue public health directions required

for the next twelve months to respond to COVID-19. While the Bill sets the limits of the direction-

making power, it allows for the operational details about how a direction is to be implemented to be

described in the direction itself. This is similar to current practice and has worked well to ensure public

health measures can be rapidly and proportionately adapted to the changing nature of the health

advice to manage the risks of COVID-19.

In relation to Carers Queensland’s submission about the definition of worker, the explanatory notes

clarify that the definition of worker in the Bill does not include a carer who has a familial or personal

relationship with a person but does include formal paid carer arrangements.

It is important to note the Bill does not extend certain extraordinary measures, previously exercised

during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as instituting lockdowns, restricting borders or imposing

restrictions on movement and gatherings of individuals or businesses. The powers that will be retained

have been defined narrowly to limit the impact of public health measures to the greatest extent

possible, while retaining only the critical measures necessary to manage serious risks of COVID-19.

3 – Nerida Barrett

12, 26, 27, 29-32, 40 –

Name Withheld

34 - Queensland Peoples’

Protest

46 – Natalie Monos

Comments on the health risk justification for continuing COVID-19 measures

A number of submissions raised concerns that the risks of COVID-19 are low, non-

existent or not supported by sufficient evidence to justify the temporary COVID-19 public

health measures in Queensland.

Common themes that were raised in submissions included:

In-depth consideration about the risks of COVID-19 is a matter for health experts and is beyond the

scope of the Bill.

However, as stated in the explanatory notes accompanying the Bill, the risks of COVID-19 remain a

concern in Queensland.

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

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Submissions Issue Response

51 – Christine Keys

56 – RACGP

57 – ACN

• the original emergency powers were based on the risks of the delta/alpha variants.

Given the risk of Omicron are significantly lower, the legislative measures are no

longer justified;

• case numbers and modelling has been overinflated;

• the peak of the COVID-19 waves have no passed; and

• Queenslanders now have natural immunity.

ACN acknowledged that the temporary public health emergency will expire on 31

October 2022 but supported the Bill on the basis that COVID-19 will remain in the

community for the foreseeable future, and continue to disrupt the community, workforce,

and the overall well-being of the Australian population.

RACGP noted the community will continue to endure further waves of COVID-19.

Ongoing waves of COVID-19 are expected to occur. While it is anticipated that these waves will be

less severe, as more people are infected with COVID-19 or receive up-to-date vaccination, they still

have the potential to place a significant burden on the community and health system.

In 2022, there has been a sustained number of COVID-19 inpatients in Queensland’s hospitals,

hovering around a baseline of 200 inpatients. While this is manageable within the health system, it can

quickly increase during waves of infection and put significant pressure on staff, the broader health

system and the community.

Another significant risk is the emergence of new strains of COVID-19 that have the potential to be

more severe, transmissible or able to evade vaccine-acquired or natural immunity. There is no way to

predict if or when such variants may emerge, but experience has shown that COVID-19 rapidly

mutates, which suggests this is a real risk.

The Bill provides targeted and proportionate responses to avoid uncontrollable spread of COVID-19

and provide the necessary mechanisms to manage impacts. It must be emphasised that the risks of

COVID-19 and the pandemic are not over; some powers remain necessary to enable a continued

response for the next twelve months.

6 – Youssef Youssef

20, 32 – Names withheld

34 – Queensland

Peoples’ Protest

55 – Adrian Vasington

57 – ACN

Vaccination

Several submissions objected against the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19

vaccinations currently available. Concerns raised about COVID-19 vaccination include

that:

• there has been a lack of recognition about natural immunity;

• there has been a lack of informed consent by Queenslanders prior to the uptake of

COVID-19 vaccines; and

• there has been no evidentiary basis that the COVID-19 vaccine has slowed Omicron.

ACN expressed concerns over lifting the vaccine mandate for health care workers and

trusts the Chief Health Officer will continue to use their discretion in enforcing vaccination

where applicable (supporting mandated vaccinations for those working in all health care

settings, whether state or privately owned). ACN welcomed continued vaccination for

those working in residential aged care and disability facilities.

While the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccinations is a matter that is outside the scope of the

Bill, the following information is provided for assistance.

COVID-19 vaccines are a proven, safe and effective means of reducing severity of disease with

COVID-19 and transmission. In Australia, there is a rigorous vaccine efficacy and safety approval

process undertaken by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to approve the use of COVID-19

vaccines. Queensland only administers COVID-19 vaccines approved the Therapeutic Goods

Administration.

9 – QHRC

13 – QLS

Exceptions and exemptions from requirements under a public health direction

QLS considered that a process should remain by which a person may be granted an

exemption from a requirement under a public health direction and urged Queensland

Health to provide information about the application and decision process. QLS also

suggested that decisions should be reviewable, and that decisions about exemptions

should be made in a timely manner that reflects the nature of the exemption required (for

example, an exemption from a requirement to isolate for a period seven days).

The proposed power to give public health directions retains the flexibility to provide exceptions that

apply in stated circumstances or to provide a process for individuals to seek an exemption from the

requirements of a direction based on their individual circumstances. Whether a direction includes

exceptions or exemptions will depend on the purpose and specific requirements of the direction.

These considerations will need to be addressed in the justification statement for the direction, which

will provide transparency and accountability regarding the criteria and rationale for exceptions or

exemptions, as well as an assessment of the human rights impacts.

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

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Submissions Issue Response

QHRC suggested that the Bill provide an automatic statutory exemption for persons to

obtain medical treatment to preserve their quality of life. QHRC notes that public health

directions have routinely included exceptions for these situations but considers that an

automatic exemption would provide more meaningful protection for persons who may be

disproportionately affected by restrictions on movement, such as persons with a disability

who need to access care or support.

Where a public health direction provides a process for individuals to seek an exemption from one or

more requirements, applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will need to

demonstrate that the conditions for an exemption have been met. As has occurred under the current

emergency legislative framework, the Chief Health Officer or their delegate will continue to consider

applications for exemptions on their individual merits and will endeavour to process exemption

requests as quickly as possible subject to legal and operational requirements. Given the relatively

stable risks of COVID-19 currently and the fact that fewer directions are in place, fewer exemption

applications are expected. This means exemption applications can be processed faster than during

the peak period of COVID-19. Time-sensitive situations will continue to be prioritised.

7 – West Moreton Health

9 – QHRC

Implementation and operational issues

QHRC suggested the Government implement mechanisms to provide a clear process for

persons to demonstrate that they are excepted or exempted from a public health

direction, such as the ability to display or provide proof that they meet relevant criteria

via a self-administered questionnaire or through an online portal.

QHRC also suggested the power of authorised persons to enter, seize and use force is a

significant power that should only be exercised to respond to serious public health risks

rather than the proposed threshold of ‘reasonable suspicion’.

West Moreton Health noted the enforcement provisions in the Bill may be difficult to

enforce without ongoing support from the Queensland Police Service.

If the Bill is passed, the exact implementation arrangements will depend on the directions in place on

31 October 2022 and the current risks of COVID-19 at that time. Queensland Health will ensure

appropriate public messaging and proactive communication with impacted stakeholders to support

implementation of the Bill.

In relation to enforcement of directions under the Bill, the Bill includes the minimum powers necessary

to ensure compliance with public health directions. The enforcement provisions are similar to existing

enforcement powers in chapter 9 of the Public Health Act, with some modifications tailored to the new

temporary COVID-19 powers in the Bill.

The power to enforce compliance with a public health direction is also appropriately limited. Regarding

entry to places without a warrant, the authorised person must reasonably suspect a person is, or may

be, contravening a public health direction at the place. This test is a common threshold used across

the Queensland statute book and ensures compliance mechanisms are available to detect, prevent

and/or cease breaches of public health directions. It provides appropriate scope for authorised

persons to investigate possible breaches that could otherwise cause significant public health risk to

the community and public health system if left undetected.

Authorised person powers do not extend to dwellings or a part of a place where a person is undergoing

a health procedure or consulting with a health practitioner, where there is a greater expectation of

privacy. Also, an authorised person must, if reasonably practicable, inform the occupier of the place

of a proposed entry and advise them the authorised person is legally permitted to enter the place.

Persons must be given an opportunity to voluntarily comply with a public health direction before an

authorised person may enforce the direction. There are also existing safeguards in chapter 9 of the

Public Health Act applicable to authorised officers.

Monitoring and enforcement activities for public health directions made under the new temporary

powers will be carried out by authorised persons under the Public Health Act, including Queensland

Health officers deployed in public health units throughout the state. This workforce has experience

enforcing public health directions and is well positioned to engage in targeted monitoring and

enforcement activities in the current environment. At this stage of the pandemic, the community is

generally aware of the need to comply with public health directions and to take reasonable precautions

to limit the preventable spread of COVID-19. With only limited restrictions in place, enforcement of

public health directions is expected to be primarily reactive, with authorised persons responding to

breaches that are particularly serious or that could place the health system or the community at

serious risk. If the Bill is passed, authorised officers will be provided with sufficient training to support

implementation of the new enforcement provisions in the Bill.

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

Page 12

Submissions Issue Response

8 – QNMU

34 – Queensland Peoples’

Protest

46 – Natalie Monos

47 – QCCL

57 - ACN

No compensation for loss or damage suffered as a result of COVID-19 measures

Some stakeholders including QCCL and Queensland People’s Protest objected to

section 142R (No entitlement to compensation) of the Bill which removes the ability for a

person to seek compensation for loss or damage suffered as a result of the COVID-19

measures.

Other stakeholders like QNMU and ACN recognised that the targeted nature of the Bill

will negate the need for individuals to seek compensation for loss or damages due to the

public health directions.

The Bill preserves the bar to compensation to the extent that a person suffers loss or damage as a

result of the exercise of the new temporary powers in the Bill. This provision is justified on the basis

that, during an ongoing and unpredictable pandemic, the State of Queensland should not be

potentially liable for uncapped compensation claims arising from the exercise of powers that are

necessary to protect public health and the capacity of the health system.

It is anticipated that the targeted nature of the Bill, in conjunction with the safeguards included, will

reduce the potential costs of compliance for individuals and minimise the potential for loss or damage

resulting from the exercise of temporary COVID-19 powers.

In addition, Government has invested significantly in supporting individuals, businesses and

organisations who have been financially disadvantaged as a result of the public health response to

COVID-19.

For example, on 19 September 2022, the Australian Government committed to funding an extra $1.44

billion towards the COVID-19 response to assist with healthcare and aged care. The funding

contributions to be extended until December 2023 include, but are not limited to:

• $760 million to support the hospital system;

• $840 million for aged care for measures like rapid antigen tests, PCR tests and resourcing the

extra staff required for aged care services;

• $48 million to extend free GP-led specialist respiratory clinics and telehealth conferences; $42

million in community campaigns; and

• continuation of funding for disability services and First Nations health services for products like

personal protective equipment and rapid antigen tests.

1, 50 – Name Witheld

3 – Nerida Barrett

6 – Youssef Youssef

8 – QNMU

10 – Pharmacy Guild of

Australia

11 – Australian Retail

Association

14 – Adriana Marsh

36 – Julianna Guinane

56 - RACGP

Other issues raised

A number of other issues were raised in submissions including:

• Emergency responses from ambulances and emergency departments could be

managed better to avoid people being in hospitals for longer than medically required.

• The continuation of the emergency powers is unacceptable and unjustified.

• The Government’s response to COVID-19 has been an overreach of power.

• RACGP requested the Health and Environment Committee consider whether the

Public Health Act should include provision for clear and timely messaging from the

Queensland Government to general practices, so general practitioners can make

determinations in their practices regarding mask wearing and staff vaccinations.

• QNMU noted its support for longer term planning for the impacts of COVID-19,

particularly in relation to the impact of ‘long COVID’ or post-COVID condition.

• COVID-19 legislation should undergo a Royal Commission.

• The Pharmacy Guild of Australia sought confirmation that a legislative process is

underway to ensure the provisions that enable emergency orders to be made under

These comments are beyond the scope of the Bill as they relate to administrative or operational details,

potential program improvements, requirements in specific public health directions or opportunities for

future legislative or administrative reform.

Queensland Health notes the issue raised by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is under consideration

and will be the subject of separate consultation in due course.

In relation to consultation undertaken on the Bill, a consultation paper was distributed to a range of

stakeholders including representatives from the health, aged care, disability, tourism, business, union

and legal sectors. Queensland Health also provided briefings to some stakeholders to receive verbal

feedback and to facilitate more informed written feedback. All stakeholder feedback received was

carefully considered in finalising the Bill. Several stakeholders, including Carers Queensland and

QNMU, commended Queensland Health on the consultation process for the Bill suggesting it was

inclusive and transparent.

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

Page 13

Submissions Issue Response

the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 are being progressed permanently and prior to

the end of the declared public health emergency.

• The Australian Retail Association proposed guiding principles to respond to future

responses to COVID-19 including a nationally consistent approach, fit-for-purpose

measures based on evidence and early consultation with sectors.

Some stakeholders sought further clarity on the consultation process undertaken during

the development of the Bill and queried what stakeholders were consulted.

Amendments to Corrective Services Act 2006

9 – QHRC

13 – QLS

42 – PLS

Transparency and oversight

QHRC suggests that the Bill should require Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) to

publish all emergency directions or declarations.

QLS believe that the measures implemented should be made publicly available and the

rationale for each measure published in the absence of the requirement for a public

health declaration.

PLS is concerned about the lack of limitations and external oversight of the temporary

provisions and their broad, discretionary powers.

QCS is committed to ensuring the least restrictive approach is implemented in responding to COVID-

19 across the custodial environment.

There are many legislative and operational safeguards in place to ensure only measures that are

necessary will continue to be used by QCS to continue responding to COVID-19 in corrective services

facilities.

To make a declaration under section 268 of the Corrective Services Act the Commissioner of QCS

must reasonably believe a situation exists at a corrective services facility that threatens or is likely to

threaten the security or good order of the facility or safety of a prisoner or another person in the facility

to make a declaration.

Only the Commissioner of QCS can make a declaration, and only after the Minister’s approval to do

so.

All declarations and directions made have, and will continue to be, published to ensure transparency

over the steps that QCS is taking to respond to COVID-19 in the correctional environment.

Further, QCS makes its Pandemic Response Planning tools and information about the level of

restrictions being applied in each custodial centre available on its website for stakeholders and the

public to access.

With regard to the specific restrictions put in place under a declaration, QCS reviews its risk

assessment if there is a significant change in the COVID-19 risk, to consider if there is a need for

changes to be made to controls.

Reviews have resulted in stepping down of restrictions as has been recently demonstrated by the

removal of vaccination requirements for visitors to a corrective services facility.

Reviews involve consultation with staff, Together Queensland Union and Queensland Health.

Lastly, the Human Rights Act applies to a decision of the QCS Commissioner to make a declaration

and any directions made under a declaration. This is an important safeguard ensuring each decision

to impose a restriction is compatible with human rights.

9 – QHRC Decision-maker Noted. As the Minister responsible for the correctional system, it is appropriate that the Minister retains

oversight of these emergency declarations.

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

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Submissions Issue Response

QHRC would prefer the temporary extensions under an emergency declaration to be

enlivened by the Premier instead of the Minister.

9 – QHRC

42 – QLS Scope of emergency declaration

QHRC and QLS raised concerns about the scope of the emergency declaration powers

in the Corrective Services Act extended by the Bill including:

• why the powers should be extended to work camps and the Helana Jones Centre,

• whether the powers should be narrowed to only be permitted to respond to the

COVID-19 pandemic, and

• the need to allow measures to be implemented to a corrective services facility on a

case-by-case basis that considers the circumstances at the facility instead of

implementing a blanket approach.

QCS notes that the Bill extends the scope of the Corrective Services Act emergency powers as

currently modified with one change. The change is to replace the limitation on use of the powers while

COVID-19 is a declared public health emergency, to limit its use to where COVID-19 is a controlled

notifiable condition.

The Bill also continues to allow a declaration to apply to any corrective services facility, not just prisons.

This has ensured throughout the pandemic that QCS is fully equipped to manage COVID-19 at all

facilities, including work camps and the Helana Jones Centre as needed.

QCS notes that flexibility already exists for declarations and directions to apply to specific or all

corrective services facilities. The Bill would continue this flexibility which allows approaches at centres

to be tailored to the specific circumstances.

9 – QHRC

13 – QLS

42 – PLS

Access to visits and services

QHRC suggests that the amendments include provisions to clarify that key oversight

agencies may visit a facility if it is subject to an emergency declaration or direction.

QLS does not support the continued power to restrict access to corrective services

facilities. QLS notes that the temporary provisions should not impede prisoner access to

legal representation and health care and should allow prisoners to continue programs so

they can meet parole eligibility dates.

PLS have concerns that the length of the emergency declaration may unduly impact

prisoner access to legal, health and mental health services and the implications should

this occur.

QCS has enabled prisoner privileges, continued programs, facilitated access to legal representatives

and permitted access for other visitors, including official visitors where possible throughout the

COVID-19 public health emergency.

QCS acknowledges the role that visits play in reintegration and maintaining family connections for

prisoners and has worked hard to facilitate access to visits throughout the pandemic. This has included

lifting visitor restrictions and providing alternative visit options including virtual visits where possible.

While the Bill extends the potential for measures to be put in place, the decisions themselves remain

subject to a range of safeguards. Directions and declarations will only be put in place where absolutely

necessary to protect staff and prisoners, with due regard to human rights in making these decisions.

QCS will continue to facilitate access as appropriate including the provision of alternative contact such

as virtual visits where possible to minimise disruptions.

42 – PLS Impact on prisoners’ wellbeing

PLS has been concerned about the use of medical segregation in prisons throughout the

pandemic due to the length of time prisoners have been locked down in their cell with

limited or no association with other prisoners. PLS has heard prisoner reports of lock

down resulting in a lack of access to exercise, fresh air, phone calls and placed further

limitations on prisoners’ access to legal and health services.

QCS notes that isolation of prisoners due to COVID-19 is done only on the basis of advice from

Queensland Health. These actions must also comply with QCS’ obligations under the Human Rights

Act.

QCS’ policies for managing isolated prisoners provide that prisoners must, to the greatest extend

possible, have access to confidential medical services and treatment, access to

psychologists/counsellors to support their mental health, engagement with activities officers to provide

activities while isolated, access to telephone calls and/or videoconferencing and access to legal

representatives and internal complaint mechanisms.

13 – QLS

42 – PLS Length of emergency declaration

QLS recommends that any declaration under section 268 of the CSA be restricted to a

period of 30 days, instead of 90 days. They also recommend that the declaration should

expire after 30 days lapse or revoked once no longer needed.

PLS’ central objection to the Bill is the length of the emergency declarations being 90

days, instead of three, and believe further justification is required. PLS submits that

The ability for the Commissioner of QCS to make a declaration of emergency under the Corrective

Services Act for a period of up to 90 days has proven to be an effective and necessary amendment

and aligns with the Chief Health Officer’s power to make directions proposed under the Bill.

Continuation of the maximum 90-day timeframe provides for an overarching declaration to be made,

with flexibility for directions to be changed under the declaration in response to the presenting risk.

Public Health and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Management) Amendment Bill 2022

Page 15

Submissions Issue Response

further justification is required and that existing risk mitigation measures are sufficient to

manage the risk. Given the nature of the correctional environment, a COVID-19 outbreak in a custodial setting presents

significant risk to QCS’ capacity to ensure the safe and humane containment and rehabilitation of

prisoners. The current timeframe for the declaration has allowed QCS time to implement controls

necessary to ensure the safety of staff and prisoners during a COVID-19 outbreak.

A sufficient timeframe for the declaration of emergency is also necessary in the event of an outbreak

of COVID-19 within a corrective services facility resulting in an elevated pandemic response. This

would necessarily take time to implement controls to mitigate risk, prior to consideration being given

to reducing the response to a standard or baseline pandemic response.

There is also significant risk to the safety and security of a corrective services facility in circumstances

where QCS may experience a loss of staff due to

COVID-19 infection or isolation requirements from a community-based outbreak of COVID-19.

QCS is committed to ensuring the least restrictive approach is implemented in responding to COVID-

19 across the custodial environment.

However, the health, safety and well-being of staff, prisoners and the broader community are important

considerations. The timeframe proposed for the declaration of emergency is considered appropriate

to respond to the level of risk that COVID-19 presents within the correctional environment and the

ability to ensure that appropriate mitigation strategies are able to be implemented.

42 – PLS Less restrictive measures

PLS submits that existing measures in relation to visitor screening, mask wearing and

vaccination requirements are a more appropriate and less restrictive way to manage

COVID-19 concerns. PLS believes that the temporary extensions are inconsistent with

the legislative aim of the Bill and with the Human Rights Act.

QCS has recently undertaken a further comprehensive assessment of the risk of COVID-19 in

corrective services facilities following the revocation of several public health directions, including the

Corrective Services Facility Personal Visitor Entry Direction, on 30 June 2022. This assessment is

reviewed regularly including extensive consultation with staff and Queensland Health.

As part of these reviews, QCS has been stepping down restrictions that were previously relied on,

such as in-person visit restrictions, or requiring all visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter

a facility.

However, given the nature of the correctional environment a baseline level of controls is still required

while there continues to be community transmission of COVID-19 that provides the flexibility to

increase controls alongside escalating risk.

The extension of the temporary legislative provisions in the Corrective Services Act will enable this

flexibility and will ensure that QCS can continue to rapidly respond to protect vulnerable prisoners and

its workforce.

The Human Rights Act applies to a decision of the QCS Commissioner to make a declaration and any

directions made under a declaration. This is another important safeguard ensuring each decision to

impose a restriction is compatible with human rights.