Friday, 16 July 2021
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine Extension: Motion
Now is fine. I thank the Acting Chairperson and appreciate that he has changed that around for me.
I thank the Minister for once again coming into this Chamber to listen to us. Sometimes I have been quite critical of him and his Department and of the way it has handled this situation. I thank him for the respect he has shown Opposition Senators and the manner in which he has treated us - he has treated us quite fairly. He will not get any pushback from me about this motion on section 9.
We are where we are because of this pandemic. We all know the challenges that we must face as a people and as a nation. We all know what we need to do to protect ourselves and mandatory hotel quarantining is part of that. As nearly 5 million vaccines have been administered, which the Minister has overseen, we have to think about where this will end. England will lift its restrictions on Monday. Similarly, Scotland will move to level 0. In Wales, formal social distancing rules are set to come to an end on 7 August. Northern Ireland is ahead of us. What is so different about us? What is so different about the virus in Ireland that causes it not to be the same as it is in England or anywhere else?Either they are right or we are. If we are right, in the coming weeks bodies will be piling up outside our borders and the Delta variant will be ravaging countries deprived of our leadership. And if they are right, we are needlessly dragging out the suffering that lockdowns and restrictions have brought on society. I understand the extension of this cautionary measure. I hope this regulation and this Act are not needed for any longer than is necessary.
I am a little disappointed that the Minister was not able to take our amendments earlier during the previous debate. As Senators, we spend some time scrutinising legislation. It is not easy for many of us, particularly those of us who may not be from a legal background. We take time to analyse the legislation, however, and when we see faults, we might suggest amendments. It is a shame that the Minister did not accept any of those amendments of behalf of the Opposition. I thank the Minister very much. I will be supporting the motion. I wish him a lovely and safe summer.