Offenders or criminal suspects who spit at or bite Northern Territory police officers will have to take blood tests to screen for infectious diseases under proposed law changes.
The Country Liberals government will introduce an amendment to the Police Administration Act during parliamentary sittings next week, which are the last before the August 27 election.
Chief Minister Adam Giles said offenders are now not required to submit to blood testing if they bite or spit at an officer, and said the amendment will give police peace of mind and allow them to begin immediate treatment if they do contract a disease.
‘We know there are many cases where officers have been assaulted, spat on and bitten who quite often have to face the emotional ordeal that an infectious disease has possibly been transmitted,’ he said on Wednesday.
He said the government was standing up for police in line with similar legislation passed in South Australia and Western Australia, pointing to a case in SA where a police officer who was spat at and had saliva land in her mouth contracted oral herpes and filed a workers’ compensation claim.
‘We want to make sure the people who stand up for Territorians are given the best possible protection,’ Mr Giles said.
If re-elected, he said, the government will also extend the protection for other frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, paramedics and firefighters.