The COVID Law Monitor project covers changes in legislation, directives and emergencies powers that affect civil liberties and freedoms of people in Australia across all jurisdictions. There have been significant changes in legislation and policy in other areas such as social security, taxation and economic management and industry, and while important, these changes fall out of scope of this project.


New and Amended Commonwealth Laws

 

Last update: 23 June 2020

This page has not been updated since the date listed above. We are currently focusing on monitoring COVID measures in Victoria and NSW. 

Contents

1. Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.1 Powers under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.2 Determinations under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.3 Directions under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.4 Penalties for breaching a Determination or Direction made under sections 477 or 488 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.5 Human biosecurity control orders under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

2. The Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth) 

2.1 Background

2.2 Legislation amended by the Act

2.3 Determinations under the Act 

3. Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No.2) Act 2020

3.1 Background

1. Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth), once the Governor-General declares under section 475 that a human biosecurity emergency exists subject to the requirements of that provision, the Health Minister is empowered to exercise the human biosecurity emergency powers found in Division 2 of Part 2 of the Act. These powers can only be exercised by the Minister personally, and include the power to make determinations  mandating emergency requirements during the human biosecurity emergency period (section 477) and to give Directions during the period (section 478). 

The Governor-General may extend the human biosecurity emergency period under section 476 of the Act.  The current human biosecurity emergency period was declared on 18 March 2020 and expires on 17 June 2020 unless it is extended.

Note: full consideration on the impact of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) is beyond the scope of this research.  We recommend that further resources be directed to reviewing the legislation in full.

1.2 Determinations under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.2.1 Background

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth), once a human biosecurity emergency has been declared, the Health Minister may make Determinations under section 477 of the Act, creating emergency requirements during the human biosecurity emergency period that:

- are necessary to prevent of control the entry, emergence or spread of the relevant human disease into Australia;

- are necessary to prevent the spread of the disease to another country; 

- are necessary to give effect to a recommendation made by the World Health Organisation to the Health Minister;

- apply to persons, goods or conveyances that are entering or leaving specified places;

- restrict or prevent the movement of persons, goods or conveyances in between specified places; and

- require specific places to be evacuated.

Determinations under section 477 of the Act must satisfy certain requirements, such as being appropriate and adapted to achieve its stated purpose, and being no more restrictive or intrusive than is required in the circumstances.  Under section 477(5) of the Act, the Determinations prevail over any other Australian law.  The Determinations made under section 477 of the Act cease to have effect at the end of the human biosecurity emergency period unless revoked earlier. 

1.2.2. Determinations under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) in response to COVID-19

The Health Minister has so far made the following Determinations under section 477:

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements) Determination 2020 (Cth) effective from 18 March 2020, it prohibits international cruise ships from entering Australian ports before 'the cessation time', unless an exemption applies.

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements) Amendment Determination (No. 2) 2020, which amends the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements) Determination 2020 to extend the operation of its provisions until 17 September 2020.

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Overseas Travel Ban Emergency Requirements) Determination 2020 (Cth) effective from 25 March 2020 which prohibits international travel after 25 March 2020 unless an exemption applies. 

Biosecurity (Exit Requirements) Determination 2020 (Cth) effective from 26 March 2020, which establishes exit screening of passengers to determine whether a passenger may be infected with COVID-19 from Pacific Islands such as (but not limited to) Cook Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu etc, including Nauru after the amendment to the Determination (Biosecurity (Exit Requirements) Amendment (Nauru) Determination 2020 (Cth)). 

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Amendment (No. 3) Determination 2020 dated 24 May 2020, which amends the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Determination 2020 to prevent or control the entry, emergence, establishment and spread of COVID-19 in designated areas in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The amendments allow a person to enter a designated area to assist in organising an election or canvassing for votes; allow officials performing functions under Australian law relating to the export of food or agricultural commodities to enter a designated area; to allow oil rig workers to enter a designated area while transiting to or from rigs or platforms; permits a vessel that carries crew that have been in a foreign country in the last 14 days to dock at a port that is in a designated area provided the crew stay on board the vessel; exclude the Davenport Community in SA as a designated area; exclude areas near Katherine and Barkly in the NT as designated areas; and exclude the designated areas in the NT from this current determination after 5 June 2020.

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Amendment (No. 4) Determination 2020, which amends the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Determination 2020 to exclude the designated areas in Western Australia from 5 June 2020.

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Amendment (No. 5) Determination 2020.This determination repeals Clause 1 of Schedule 1 and Clause 1 of Schedule 2 of the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Determination 2020.

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Amendment (No. 6) Determination 2020The Determination remains in force in relation to the designated areas of South Australia for the duration of the human biosecurity emergency period, unless it is revoked earlier. The amendments are necessary to exclude the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands, the Point Pearce community and the Nepabunna community in South Australia from the current Determination. The Minister for Health is no longer satisfied that it is necessary for the requirements to apply to these areas in South Australia – i.e. that the requirements are no longer necessary to prevent or control the entry, emergence, establishment or spread of COVID-19 in these areas in South Australia, in light of the measures being taken by the South Australian Government. The amendments are supported by the Maralinga Tjarutja Council, the Point Pearce Aboriginal Corporation and the Nepabunna community.

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements—Retail Outlets at International Airports) Determination 2020 (Cth) effective from 29 March 2020, which prohibits retail outlets from operating within International Airports from 29 March 2020. 

Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements—Public Health Contact Information) Determination 2020 (Cth) effective from 25 April 2020, which relates to the COVIDSafe app, and the collection of data, use of data, decrypting and coercing the use of the app. It requires the consent of the individual prior to uploading or investigating of data as discussed in Clause 7. Clause 9 requires that a person must not require another person to download, operate or consent to uploading their COVIDSafe app data and prohibits a person from taking adverse action against a person who does not download or operate the app (including by refusing to enter into or continue a contract, including an employment contract, by refusing to allow them to enter a premises, receive goods or services, and a range of other specified adverse actions).

1.3 Directions under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

1.3.1 Background

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth), once a human biosecurity emergency has been declared, under section 478 the Health Minister may also make Directions to any person that:

- are necessary to prevent of control the entry, emergence or spread of the relevant human disease into Australia;

- are necessary to prevent the spread of the disease to another country; 

- are necessary to give effect to a recommendation made by the World Health Organisation to the Health Minister;

- directs a person to close premises or prevent access to premises; and

- gives effect to or enforces a Determination made under section 477.

Directions under section 478 must satisfy certain requirements, such as being appropriate and adapted to achieve its stated purpose, and being no more restrictive or intrusive that is required in the circumstances.  Under section 478(4), the Directions prevail over any other Australian law, but must not be made against an officer or employee of a State or Territory or State or Territory body unless the Direction is made in accordance with an agreement with that State or Territory or body.  The Directions made under section 478 cease to have effect at the end of the human biosecurity emergency period unless revoked earlier. 

It is unclear if any Directions have been made, as they are not required to be published.

1.3.2 Penalties for breaching a Determination or Direction made under sections 477 or 488 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

Under section 479 of the Act, a person commits an offence if a Determination or Direction applies to them, and they engage in conduct that contravenes the requirement of that Determination or Direction.  The penalty for breach is imprisonment for 5 years or 300 penalty units, or both. 

1.4 Human biosecurity control orders under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

Under Part 3 of Chapter 2 of the Act, human biosecurity control orders may be made by a specified person against individuals that may have contracted a relevant human disease, such as when they are showing symptoms or have been exposed. 

Human biosecurity control orders can be made in relation to the following, among other things:

- to require a person to remain for no more than 6 hours at the place they were at when the officer became satisfied that the control order should be imposed;

- to require a person to provide contact information; and

- to notify an individual of changes to contact information.

See amendments to the Biosecurity Act 2015 made by the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020, discussed below, which allow control orders to be delegated to biosecurity officers and SES employees. 

The penalty for non-compliance with a human biosecurity control order is imprisonment for 12 months or 60 penalty units, or both.

2. The Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth) 

2.1 Background

The Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 was part of the government’s legislation in response to COVID-19. This Act was part of a package of 8 bills responding to the economic impact of COVID-19, with the following also included:  

Guarantee of Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020 (amended by the Second Act);

Australian Business Growth Fund (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020;

Assistance for Severely Affected Regions (Special Appropriation) (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020;

Structured Finance Support (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020;

Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill (No 1) 2019-2020;

Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill (No 2) 2019-2020;

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020.

2.2 Legislation amended by the Act

Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth)

Amendments to the Biosecurity Act 2015 which allow for delegation of the power of the Director of Human Biosecurity in relation to human biosecurity control orders (s544A). 

Under the delegated power, a biosecurity officer or SES employee can perform some of the duties usually reserved for the Director, with limited oversight.  Delegates cannot conduct a review on the control orders under Schedule 5 of the Act.    

Other federal legislation amended

Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 

Income Tax (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 

A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 

A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999

Social Security (Administration) Act 1999

Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019

Financial Framework (Supplementary Powers) Regulations 1997 

Corporations Act 2001 

Retirement Savings Accounts Regulations 1997 

Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 

Farm Household Support Act 2014

Social Security Act 1991 

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Simplifying Income Reporting and Other Measures) Act 2020

Bankruptcy Act 1966

Bankruptcy Regulations 1996 

A New Tax System (Medicare Levy Surcharge—Fringe Benefits) Act 1999

Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998

2.3 Determinations under the Act

Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Deferral of Sunsetting—Income Management and Cashless Welfare Arrangements) Determination 2020

Enabled under Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth). 

This determination extends the end date for the Cashless Debit Card trial in all existing sites and Income Management in the Cape York region from 30 June 2020 to 31 December 2020. 

3. Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No.2) Act 2020 

3.1 Background

This Act amends the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to include the Coronavirus Economic Response known as the Job Keeper Scheme

Under the amendments, employers can change the regular hours worked by employees, their duties (so long as they are still within the employee’s skill and competency) or can allow for the employee to be ‘stood down’ but still have access to the Job Keeper payment of $1,500.00 per fortnight. 

Further details on the Job Keeper payments are contained within the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020

Further, this legislation also amends: 

Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 

Social Security Act 1991 

Taxation Administration Act 1953 

Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 

Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020* (*which was amended with regard to the powers of the Social Security Minister).

Guarantee of Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999

Taxation Administration Act 1953

 

 


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