COVID-19

Backbench blow-up: Covid powers extension delayed

Mr Perrottet was forced to step in and delay an extension to Covid-19 provisions including the ability for police officers to fine people for breaching public health orders after his Health Minister failed to convince a number of backbench MPs about why the extension was needed. Mr Perrottet has vowed to only extend health provisions that need to continue.Multiple MPs spoke out in a Coalition party room against Mr Hazzard’s push to extend temporary Public Health Act provisions until as late as October 31, 2023.“I think it’s very good that we have constant debate and discussions in various forums and ultimately, from a government perspective, I just want to make sure we get it right,” Mr Perrottet said.Mr Perrottet said that some Covid-19 provisions will “need to be extended,” and that will be done in February when parliament resumes.“Those provisions that are necessary will be extended, and I’ll work through that with the health Minister over this period of time,” he said.The Premier would not say whether he will extend the authority for police to issue fines under the public health order, but his Police Minister wants that power to go.“The police don’t like these powers because these powers mean that we’re in a pandemic,” David Elliott said.Senior Ministers told The Daily Telegraph that the Premier will be going “line by line” through the legislation.Public Health Act provisions that provide a framework for enforcing sweeping Covid ­restrictions are currently set to expire in March next year.The powers that were set to be extended include authorising Police officers to enforce public health orders by imposing fines.Daily Telegraph – News Feed latest episodeNSW Police did not ask for these powers to be extended.The temporary provisions also allow health officials to impose a Covid-19 health order on specific individuals without first going to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.Around 400 of these “Section 62” orders have been used during the pandemic to force Covid cases into hotel quarantine if they were ­ignoring isolation requirements.Health authorities want their powers extended to allow for restrictions to be reimposed if NSW faces a third wave of Covid infections.Extending the powers would allow officials to impose sweeping new restrictions without ­recalling parliament.The bill sparked anger among some government backbenchers, with multiple MPs declaring it sends the “wrong message”.Sources said up to six MPs raised concerns with the bill during the Tuesday party room meeting.Mr Hazzard failed to address concerns in the government meeting, later calling in top bureaucrats to brief concerned backbenchers. The Health Minister was said to be arrogant and dismissive of Coalition MPs’ concerns.One MP told The Daily Telegraph that it would be “quite alarming” for the community if emergency powers were extended as far as October 2023.“The message that we would be sending is that we still have emergency provisions in place until 2023,” the MP said.Extending the emergency powers would not automatically extend current restrictions, but would allow the government to reimpose certain measures if ­required.MPs who raised concerns ­included representatives of 12 “hot spot” LGAs in western and southwestern Sydney which faced the harshest Covid lockdowns. NAT – Stay Informed – Social Media

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