New reforms give government temporary powers

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REFORMS passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly today (April 2) will allow the ACT government to quickly make legislative amendments during the coronavirus crisis. 

The “COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020” temporarily amends 20 pieces of legislation that have been identified as crucial and urgent, according to Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

“These changes create a head of power in the Residential Tenancies Act, which will give us the ability to quickly implement the short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for the non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 which all state and territories are implementing,” Mr Barr says.

“It will also increase the capacity for the treasurer to spend money swiftly to support sectors of our economy and community as they come under pressure.

“One of the operational changes that will be made as a result of this bill is to allow ACT courts to change the way evidence may be presented in court and to allow judges to decide how trials may be held. This will allow ACT courts to adhere to social distancing requirements in their operations.”

The ACT Law Society has since come out and condemned these changes, saying they are “unsound and misguided”.

Mr Barr says all of these amendments will have a sunset clause meaning that they will phase out once the community and the economy have recovered from this crisis.

Additional legislation amendments will be introduced over the next few months, he says.

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