Public to have say on CHO’s extraordinary COVID powers


Queenslanders have until Wednesday to have their say on the proposed extension of Jeannette Young's extraordinary powers to oversee the COVID response to September this year.

The Chief Health Officer was handed her sweeping powers to regulate people's behaviour - from mandating masks and hotel quarantine, to closing businesses and borders - in March last year to allow Queensland to respond to the emerging pandemic.

The powers were bestowed in a late-night emergency sitting of parliament without any public debate.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Peter Wallis
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Peter Wallis

But the parliament is now asking for public input as it considers legislation that will extend her unprecedented powers until September 30.

The explanatory notes to the Bill say that authorities need to maintain their ability to respond at short notice to evolving situations to risks such as interstate cross-border travel.

"As the situation relating to COVID-19 continues to evolve across Australia and internationally, it is difficult to determine with absolute certainty how long the emergency response measures, particularly the emergency powers provided to the Chief Health Officer and emergency officers appointed under the Public Health Act 2005, will be required," the Bill says.

"Therefore, an extension of the amendments, until 30 September 2021, is considered to be the least restrictive and reasonably available way to allow for the continuation of the Queensland Government's health response to respond to any emerging threats of COVID-19 in Queensland while also considering the impact that a vaccine becoming available may have on limiting the public health risks of COVID-19 in Queensland."

It says a further extension past September may be required in the future.

For details on making a public submission, click here.

Originally published as Public to have say on CHO's extraordinary COVID powers