Interim report on the COVID-19 pandemic response
The Select Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic response has released an interim report. The Committee has drawn on the evidence provided to it across seven public hearings to make the following 24 recommendations:
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government prepare and publish a step-by-step process for easing restrictions in the Territory along the lines of the one prepared by the Northern Territory Government.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government remove the current 100-property limit on the land tax concession scheme for landlords, who rent their properties through a community housing provider at an affordable rent to low and moderate income tenants, and make this scheme permanent.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government contact all landlords and tenants that have had their email details recorded when a bond was lodged to inform them of the supports available for renters and landlords alike.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government create and make available a standard terms and rights document for tenants and landlords to assist them in understanding changes due to COVID-19.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government establish a tenant transfer system to allow for easier and more convenient change of tenants and retrieval of bonds for members of group houses.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government develop a framework for the repayment of any rental arrears accrued during the COVID-19 eviction moratorium.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government develop a plan to prohibit a lessor or grantor from seeking termination solely on the basis of rent arrears accrued during the period covered by the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Declaration 2020.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government explore a method for renters in fixed-term leases to terminate their tenancies during the COVID-19 emergency, such as by using the same mechanism available to people on periodic tenancies, i.e. by providing three weeks’ notice.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government consider providing financial mechanisms to assist community housing providers in expanding their property holdings to provide accommodation for people eligible for community housing.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government make all necessary representations to the Commonwealth to assist community service organisations to obtain COVID-19 funding.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government consider establishing a small infrastructure grants program to assist community organisations who may need extra support to help deliver services in response to COVID-19.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government ensure that disability service providers, aged care homes and similar service providers have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect and reassure both clients and staff.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provide funding to enable service providers to shift to on-line delivery of services where possible.
The Committee recommends that OneLink expand its opening hours so that it is available later at night and on weekends.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government fund and participate in a Connections Week exercise at least twice a year to connect with rough sleepers and other people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness and understand who they are and their individual circumstances and needs.
The Committee recommends the ACT Government prioritise the city centre as the next location for a COVID-19 testing facility, if testing facilities are expanded.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government report regularly to the Legislative Assembly, and the Garran community, on any alternative uses proposed for the pop-up Emergency Department while it is on Garran Oval.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government prepare plans for the future use of the pop-up emergency building once it is removed from Garran Oval.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government require that hospitality workers undertake hygiene training specific to COVID-19.
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government prepare rules for the reopening of cafes, restaurants and other venues such as provision of hand sanitiser, distancing between tables, and cleaning of premises.
The Committee recommends that specific and targeted information is provided to patrons to ensure that social distancing measures are adhered to and highlighting the responsibility of each and every person.
The Committee recommends the ACT Government continues to work with the hospitality and club sector on occupancy arrangements, informed by up to date health advice, particularly with a view to reopening venues and increasing employment in the sector.
The Committee recommends the ACT Government give consideration as to whether the national and cultural institutions in the ACT could have a relevant patron limit set for them, informed by up to date health advice, particularly with a view to aiding tourism
The Committee recommends that the ACT Government develop and communicate the criteria and process for applying for commercial rates waivers due to COVID-19 pandemic impacts.
The full report is available at https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/parliamentary-business/in-committees/recent-reports
The Committee intends to release further interim reports as it receives evidence.
The Select Committee was established by the Legislative Assembly on 2 April to provide oversight to the ACT Government’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The resolution establishing the Committee is available on the Committee’s website.
For further information please contact the Committee Secretary on (02) 6205 0129 or by email at: LACommitteeCOVID19@parliament.act.gov.au.
Monday 18 May 2020