On 18 August 2020, the COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment (Quarantine Debt Recovery)
Bill 2020 (the “Bill”) was introduced to Tasmania’s House of Assembly (the “Assembly”) by the
Hon Roger Jaensch, the Minister for Human Services.
The Bill proposes to amend the COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (Act 11 of 2020) (the “COVID-19 Act”).
About the Bill
The Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (“EM”) indicates that the Bill:
“… will implement a model for charging for hotel quarantine in Tasmania. Mandatory
hotel quarantine continues to be a key strategy in preventing the importation of COVID-19
into Tasmania. The requirement to enter hotel quarantine is imposed by the exercise
of emergency powers under the Emergency Management Act 2006.”
On 24 July 2020, the Premier, Peter Gutwein MP, announced that the Tasmanian Government would introduce charging for hotel quarantine in Tasmania
from 31 July 2020. This means that from that date, all people undertaking quarantine
in government-designated accommodation will be required to pay towards their quarantine,
except in certain circumstances.
About the COVID-19 Act
According to the Tasmanian Planning Reform website, the COVID-19 Act “provides for the issue of notices during the COVID-19
emergency period to provide a range of measures relating to the functions and powers
of local councils and other entities involved in the planning system”, including:
- extensions of statutory time periods, including those under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 and associated legislation;
- alternative ways to take physical action, such as through the delivery of electronic
- alternative meeting arrangements for local councils and other entities;
- alternative arrangements for public exhibition of documents; and
- alternative arrangements for public hearings, such as those conducted by the Tasmanian
Planning Commission and the Appeal Tribunal.
It also provides for temporary relief from certain planning requirements to assist
with our response efforts to COVID-19, including:
- amendments to existing planning permits, such as permit conditions and restrictions
to allow for the delivery of essential services; and
- exemptions from planning scheme requirements in order to implement a requirement,
direction or authorisation necessary during the emergency period.
Key Features of the Proposed Amendment
The Bill proposes to amend the COVID-19 Act by inserting new “Part 6A – Charging For Quarantine Accommodation”(ss 25A-25J) and sets out the legislative framework for implementing the proposed
changes for charging for hotel quarantine. Some of the key features of new Part 6A
- the Secretary, Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management (“DPFEM”) is named
as the responsible person for issuing orders and making decisions with respect to
the operation of the charging model. Section 25J provides for the Secretary to delegate
certain administrative powers to a Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner under
the Police Service Act 2003;
- the Bill provides that the Secretary may, by order, declare that a person or class
of people in government quarantine on or after 31 July 2020 may be required to pay.
An order may be amended or revoked by the Secretary;
- the Bill provides for pro-rata payment and details daily rates. This approach is intended
to allow for circumstances where a person or family may not be required to quarantine
for the full 14-day period; and
- the daily rates set in the Bill are as follows: $200 for a single person, $71.40 for
an additional person and $35.70 for an additional child. There will be no charge for
children under 3 years of age, and accommodation charges will be capped at $4,800.
Exemption or Waiver of Fees
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, at least two options exist to apply for exemption
or waiver to the fees.
- Section 25D provides for a person may apply for a certificate of exemption to seek
an exemption to the fees (either in full or in part) prior to their travel. Alternatively,
on receipt of an invoice a person may apply for a waiver of all or in part of the
fees set out in an invoice or to alter the payment date specified in an invoice; and
- Section 25I provides for a person to make an application to the Secretary for a waiver
of all or part of the quarantine debt amount set out in an invoice, or to alter the
payment date specified in an invoice (ie seek an extension).
An application for a waiver or alteration to the payment date may be granted by the
Secretary on the basis of compassionate or medical reasons, financial hardship or
other relevant circumstances.
Government Comment on the Bill
In the Minister’s speech, he commented:
“As we continue to rebuild a stronger Tasmania, we must continue to ensure that safeguards
are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 into Tasmania. Mandatory hotel quarantine
remains one of the most effective measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19.
In July 2020, National Cabinet agreed to work toward a uniform model for charging
for hotel quarantine across the country. Since that meeting, a model for charging
for hotel quarantine is being progressively implemented by other states and territories
... By introducing charging for hotel quarantine, the Tasmanian Government aims to
discourage people from undertaking discretionary or non-time-sensitive travel from
affected areas. This is vital to ensuring people travelling from restricted areas
will either have a genuine need to travel, or be aware of their obligation to pay
a fee toward their quarantine.”
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