- Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 to be introduced into State Parliament
- Sections 318 and 338B of the Criminal Code amended to provide for higher maximum penalties for serious assaults and threats made against essential frontline workers
- Maximum penalties of 10 years' imprisonment for assaults and seven years' imprisonment for threats
Urgent amendments to the Criminal Code specific to the COVID-19 pandemic will be introduced into State Parliament today.
The amendments, which will cease to have effect 12 months after commencement, introduce tough penalties for individuals who assault or threaten frontline workers such as doctors and nurses, police officers, paramedics, fire and emergency service workers, and prison officers, in the context of COVID-19.
Individuals could face up to 10 years' imprisonment if found guilty of assaulting a frontline worker in circumstances where they know they have COVID-19 or create a belief, suspicion or fear that they have COVID-19.
Threats to injure, endanger or harm a frontline worker by exposing them to COVID-19 will attract a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment under the new laws.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"This global pandemic places a heavy responsibility on us as legislators to take immediate action and make urgent decisions to safeguard the health and safety of the Western Australian community.
"These amendments are intended to have an additional deterrent effect to protect our essential frontline service providers.
"This Bill makes it clear that assaults on and threats to essential people on the frontline of this crisis - among them police officers, hospital workers and prison officers, risking their own safety and health to protect us all - in the context of COVID-19 will result in serious consequences."
Comments attributed to Police Minister Michelle Roberts:
"Our police and all those on the frontline do an incredibly difficult job, sometimes at great personal risk.
"We all need to respect the work they do on behalf of our community.
"They are doing this to save people's lives and to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
"People who cough or spit on our police officers or first responders, and then claim they've got COVID-19, are committing assault.
"It is vile behaviour and we are increasing the penalties to reflect just how serious these offences are."
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800
Police Minister's office - 6552 6900