New NSW COVID-19 Recovery Act 2021

Thursday 25 March 2021 @ 2.30 p.m. | Legal Research

On 25 March 2021, the COVID-19 Recovery Act 2021 (NSW) received assent as Act 5 of 2021. The Bill was originally introduced by NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, to the Legislative Assembly on 16 March 2021, and passed through Parliament with amendments on 24 March 2021.

The Act makes extensive amendments to more than 30 pieces of NSW legislation and repeals the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (COVID-19) Regulation 2020 (No 578 of 2020).

Object of the Act

As outlined in the Bill Digest, the purpose of the Act:

“… is to temporarily remake or extend the operation of certain measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The Treasurer also referred to previous legislation which was introduced to address COVID-19 challenges, and the need for:

“… existing protections [to be] coupled with new conditions to ensure that protection does not become a disincentive to recovery”.

He also noted in his speech:

“[the] bill therefore proposes to temporarily extend emergency measures by up to 12 months. The extensions will help with continued management of the pandemic as well as our longer-term economic recovery”.

Brief Overview of the Amendments

The Act outlines extended emergency measures which include amendments to the following legislation with the aim to “extend provisions for conducting meetings, medical examinations, and mandatory questioning by audio or video link”:

  • Associations Incorporation Act 2009;
  • Strata Schemes Management Act 2015;
  • Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016;
  • Crown Land Management Act 2016; and
  • Mental Health Act 2007.

Other amendments contained in the Act extend emergency provisions for only six months, with a possibility of further extension by regulation – for example, certain sections of the following Acts:

  • Long Service Leave Act 1955
  • Annual Holidays Act 1944
  • Industrial Relations Act 1996
  • Retirement Villages Act 1999

The Act also includes provisions designed to “support the transition back to normal commercial and residential tenancy laws” following the repeal of previous emergency measures.

These provisions include certain preserved protections for commercial tenants under the Retail Leases Act 1994, as well as new amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

In the Treasurer's second reading speech to Parliament, he commented:

“[the Bill] … also takes important steps, particularly in relation to residential and commercial tenancies, to help businesses smoothly transition back to normal operations. That will be our ultimate measure of success—when the households and businesses of New South Wales are firmly back on their own feet and back on the path to greater prosperity. We have made a strong start but we have a long way to go. This bill is an important step on the journey …”

Legislation Review Committee

The Legislation Review Committee (the “Committee”) noted in their March 2021 report:

“… [to] the extent that it delegates power to regulations, the Bill only seeks to extend the operation of existing measures that are part of the Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and does not seek to implement new measures”.

The Committee also recognises that a flexible repeal date for these provisions may be desirable, as the Treasurer suggested in “recognising the uncertainty of the duration of the pandemic”.

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COVID-19 Recovery Act 2021 [NSW] - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

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