Health | October 29, 2021
Labor’s shocking pandemic laws pass lower house
New legislation that gives the Victorian Premier the power to rule by decree passed the Legislative Assembly last night, despite fierce objection from Member for Lowan Emma Kealy and her Nationals colleagues.
Ms Kealy vehemently opposed the Andrews Labor Government’s Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021, and has vowed the Nationals will repeal it if elected to government.
Ms Kealy said the bill gave almost unfettered power to the government over what rules they could put in place in Victoria.
“This is not about whether you like or dislike Daniel Andrews, and it’s not about whether you think he’s done a good or a bad job managing COVID – it’s about the power handed not just to this government, but all future governments,” she said.
“The bill allows the Premier to declare a pandemic in Victoria and empowers the Health Minister to make orders to lock down the state and suspend people’s rights even when there is no presence of disease in the state.
“The bill says the Chief Health Officer must publish their advice within 14 days, but there is nothing in this bill that means the government has to follow this advice.
“Further, there is no mechanism for oversight by the Parliament. All the Premier must do is set up a consultative committee, which he appoints and which has no power of veto.
“I have received copious amounts of correspondence from constituents and people from across the state who are deeply opposed to this legislation. They can see that in the wrong hands, it will cause irreparable harm to our state and its people.”
Ms Kealy said she was particularly concerned by the power the bill conferred to make orders on attributes, including race, gender and sexuality.
“This bill offers people no rights of appeal to courts. Under Labor’s proposed laws, individuals face fines of more than $90,000 and even jail time,” she said.
The president of the Victorian Bar Christopher Blanden said the legislation “effectively gives the health minister, in a practical sense, unlimited power to rule the state by decree for an indefinite period and without any effective judicial or parliamentary oversight”.
“When this is the assessment of one of the state’s top lawyers, all Victorians should be worried,” Ms Kealy said.
“We know that the government needs a certain degree of flexibility to control dangerous outbreaks of disease – no one is arguing about that. We are arguing for proper accountability and oversight, and this bill does not deliver those measures.”
Ms Kealy urged people to contact crossbench MPs who had indicated their support for the proposed legislation ahead of a vote in the Parliament’s upper house in three weeks.
She said people could also record their concerns at www.noplandan.com.au/lockdown-legislation
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