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Canberra
Thursday, November 26, 2020

Emergency response: ACT Government seeks to amend 36 pieces of legislation

A suite of COVID-19 emergency response legislation has been brought before the Legislative Assembly today.

The Bill will temporarily amend 36 pieces of Territory legislation that have been deemed by the ACT Government “crucial and urgent” to support their operational response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the changes included modifying payroll tax arrangements to exempt wages subsidised by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program.

“They will not be taxed under the ACT’s payroll legislation,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

Under the emergency legislation people will also be able to sign and witness documents electronically where previously face-to-face witnesses and signatures were required.

“This relates particularly to incorporated associations, including their holding of electronic meetings and the conduct of proxy voting,” the Chief Minister said.

The Bill will also introduce electronic conveyancing in the ACT to enable the purchase of property to continue with less face-to-face contact.

From 1 June, conveyancing processes in the Territory can be conducted online.

More parliamentary sittings as restrictions will continue to ease

National Cabinet is set to meet tomorrow ahead of changes to Federal public gathering and social distancing restrictions that were flagged by Mr Barr and Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.

The Chief Minister said “people can expect some relaxation of measures to be announced” then.

“The important point to stress here is that this process will be gradual. It will take many months and it will involve detailed evaluation and testing on each phase of restrictions,” he said.

“We remain very concerned about the potential for localised outbreaks as we have seen in Tasmania and Victoria, but we are confident that we have in place both the public health capability, the contact tracing capability, to move quickly should there be any localised outbreaks in the ACT.”

Mr Barr reiterated that he believes it will be a “miracle” if there are no new cases in the ACT in the future.

“We are planning for the reality that there will be, but we can’t continue to live our lives in lockdown.”

With the easing of restrictions, the ACT Legislative Assembly will continue their parliamentary sittings and committee work.

As part of a transition for the Legislative Assembly back to normal arrangements, the Assembly will now sit more regularly.

A new timetable will see the Legislative Assembly sit every fortnight and then every week as time moves toward the caretaker period prior to October’s ACT election.