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COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020

April 21, 2020

The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 and the State Taxation Acts Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill 2020 have been introduced and quickly passed by Parliament.

Measures covered by the Bills include:

1. An extension of the First Home Owners Grant of $20,000 for purchases of new homes in regional Victoria so that it expires in 1 July 2021 and not 1 July 2020.

2. Reforms to the operation of the justice system to minimise delays and to minimise the need for actual appearances in courts or tribunals.  This includes deciding issues on the basis of written submissions if in the interests of justice.  This should minimise the impact of COVID-19 on legal proceedings though some delays cannot be avoided.

3. Allowance for documents to be sent by means other than personal service.  This includes service of legal documents.

4. Current requirements to have planning documents available for public display in an office can be satisfied by having these documents published on their website.

5. Provisions allowing planning panels to conduct hearings by video-conference or in other remote ways.

6. Amendments to allow virtual meetings for local councils and for some Parliamentary Committees to carry out their work remotely.

7. Postpone the commencement of the majority of the provisions of the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 to 1 July 2021. The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 initially intended to come in to effect on July 1 2020.

8. An extension of the workers compensation (WorkCover) requirement for a 13 week notice period to terminate weekly payments to up to 39 weeks; an extension of 6 months.  This reform may in the longer run have an impact on the cost of the Workcover system and possibly premiums.

9. Implementation of moratoriums of 6 months for rental increases, evictions and blacklisting.  This will be complemented by dispute resolution processes, hopefully better regulated than DBDRV, to help landlords and tenants negotiate rent reductions or deferrals.   The detail of the dispute resolution system will be included in regulations which are not yet available.

10. Registration of a registered training organisation can be extended by six months if necessary in response to the COVID-19 emergency.  This may stop some trainers needing to cease operation because they cannot renew their registration.

HIA will provide more information to members about the measures in this Bill as necessary but if you have immediate questions email the Workplace Services team.