The NSW government this week considered and dumped a proposal to extend, until the next state election, laws that have allowed Health Minister Brad Hazzard to make public health orders during the pandemic. These health orders have included social restrictions and mask and vaccine mandates in some settings, as well as powers for police to fine people for breaching the rules.
NSWS Premier Dominic Perrottet stated that he would rework the legislation with Mr Hazzard over the summer before parliament resumes in February. This followed a fierce opposition to the proposal from some government MPs in a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday.
The Premier said that , only ‘necessary’ health provisions will remain in place. However, did not specify what powers will remain in the amended bill.
In response to the members of the Media's pressing for him to specify these provisions, he said:
“As much as you’d love me to make public policy decisions at a press conference, they’re better done in other forums."
“What I’ve committed to is, firstly, the only health provisions that will be extended will be those that I deem as absolutely necessary.
“Secondly, I’ll work through each of those provisions that are within that health order, and make a decision in consultation with the Health Minister over the course of the summer break.
“I, like anyone, want to make sure that we have government out of the way. But, at the same time, we’ve got to keep the protection, the health care of people right across our state,” he said.
“You don’t want to live in a police state, the police don’t want to live in a police state, you want to make sure that the provisions that are in place are there to keep people safe and are necessary.”
Police Minister David Elliott commented that the fact that the legislation was debated and not readily supported “proves the system works”.
He commented: “We should be correct critically evaluating all legislation and laws."
“I can assure you the police don’t like these powers because these powers mean that we’re in a pandemic and the quicker we move through the pandemic, the quicker the police can get back to what they do best.”
However, Mr Elliott hinted that the police powers to fine people for breaching public health orders could potentially be extended.
Today's COVID figures are as shown below. There is a slow progression of vaccination to the desired 95% double vaccination level.