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Motion: COVID-19 Response

22 March 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to monitor and scrutinise all matters relating to the management of the COVID-19 response including:

(a) government responses to outbreaks or emerging threats;

(b) public information campaigns;

(c) prevention and mitigation measures;

(d) implemented restrictions and safety measures;

(e) vaccination programs;

(f) infection testing;

(g) contact tracing;

(h) treatments;

(i) interactions with other jurisdictions;

(j) advice provided to the state government;

(k) impact on specific demographic groups;

(l) learnings from previous responses; and

(m) any other related matters.

2. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

The purpose of this motion is fairly clear, that is, to establish a select committee of this council to monitor and scrutinise matters relating to the management of COVID-19. The range of matters within the remit of the committee are outlined in the motion, so I will not go through them all, but in particular the committee would be looking at government responses to outbreaks or emerging threats, public information campaigns, prevention and mitigation measures, vaccination, contact tracing, treatments, any advice provided to the state government, learnings from previous responses and other related matters.

The genesis for this proposal is the joint parliamentary committee that was established looking into COVID last year, following the inclusion of COVID in the Public Health Act. Members may recall that the Greens had negotiated effectively with the Malinauskas government to ensure that we established that committee as an important accountability measure to look at how the COVID response was unfolding in our state.

The committee concluded in November. One of the recommendations of the committee was that there be an ongoing parliamentary committee to look into COVID and the state response, so this motion is consistent with that recommendation. I have had preliminary discussions with the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and others, and I understand that there is broad support in the parliament for what is being proposed. I intend to bring this to a vote in the next sitting period. With that, I conclude my remarks.