Review of the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020
The submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in response to the review of the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020 (Cth) (NED Act) was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.
The National Emergency Declaration Bill 2020 (Originating Bill) was introduced and passed in December 2020 to implement the Australian Government’s response to the following recommendation of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (Royal Commission):
The Australian Government should make provision, in legislation, for a declaration of a state of national emergency. The declaration should include the following components:
(1) the ability for the Australian Government to make a public declaration to communicate the seriousness of a natural disaster;
(2) processes to mobilise and activate Australian Government agencies quickly to support states and territories to respond to and recover from a natural disaster; and
(3) the power to take action without a state or territory request for assistance in clearly defined and limited circumstances.1
The Law Council acknowledges the intent of the NED Act, and the underlying recommendation of the Royal Commission, to facilitate rapid and coordinated responses to emergencies of national significance—including natural disasters, as well as other hazards such as pandemics, terrorist attacks, or chemical, biological or radiological exposure incidents.
You can read the full submission below.
1 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, Final Report, (October 2020), recommendation 5.1. See also the supporting commentary at 140-149 at [5.22]-[5.72].