RETURN TO PARLIAMENT

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Today, May 12, 2020 we return to Parliament as we sit to debate and pass the COVID-19 Emergency Measures Bill.

The first bill amends the Court Security Act 2005 to enable court security officers to use thermal imaging scans or contactless thermometers to check a person's body temperature if they are entering or on court premises. Security officers will also be able to require those individuals to answers questions about their health in relation to symptoms of COVID-19, or whether they are likely to have been at risk of exposure to COVID-19. If an individual has a temperature of greater than 38 degrees Celsius or exhibits or reports other common signs of COVID-19, the security officer may deny them entrance to court premises or require them to leave.

The second bill amends the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 to enable the Treasurer flexibility in relation to tabling or publication of certain reports during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 reporting period for the New South Wales Government. These amendments provide planned relief for certain departments and statutory bodies from financial reporting requirements for the 2019-20 reporting period. This includes certain small agencies, Crown land managers, special purpose staff agencies and retained State interests. This relief will produce sector-wide time savings, which is particularly crucial in the current circumstances. Finally to the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures – Miscellaneous) Bill 2020, or the "third bill", which includes amendments to legislation.

The third bill includes amendments to the Annual Holidays Act 1944 to permit the cashing out and taking of annual leave for employees in the local government sector at half pay or double pay, subject to conditions. Local government sector employees derive their annual leave entitlement from the Annual Holidays Act 1994, which prohibits the cashing out of annual leave, except in very limited circumstances. This amendment would mean all local government sector employees would have a statutory right to cash out their annual leave subject to conditions in the regulations. The third bill will amend the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 to allow charities and not-for-profits to conduct meetings using technology, and for members to vote on resolutions via post or electronic means, even if their constitutions either don't allow or don't specifically provide for this.

The third bill will amend the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to allow authorised officers to authorise a person who the officer suspects on reasonable grounds has knowledge about a certain matter to answer questions about the matter using an audio link or audio visual link. This will help ensure that investigations and interviews can be conducted during the pandemic in compliance with social distancing practices. The third bill also makes equivalent amendments to the Crown Land Management Act 2016, Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Fisheries Management Act 1994, Mining Act 1992, Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and Water Management Act 2000.


To read the debate on the Emergency Measures Bill please visit the Parliaments website.