The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath has vowed to fight Labor’s controversial Pandemic Bill which is schedule for debate in the upper house of State Parliament in mid-November.
Ms Bath is sponsoring a parliamentary e-petition calling for the Bill to be withdrawn.
Daniel Andrews’ new the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021introduced into state parliament last week has attracted heavy criticism for introducing extreme, dangerous and excessive laws in Victoria.
The Bill sidelines Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and grants the Premier power to declare a ‘State of Emergency’ without safeguards or transparency.
The legislation has been lambasted by the Victoria Bar, the professional association for barristers in Victoria.
The Victorian Bar criticised the Andrews Government for offering only one rushed 45 minute briefing.
The Bar stated the legislation was “draconian in authorising in virtually unlimited interference with liberties of Victorians”, it also said it “represents the biggest challenge to the rule of law that this state has faced for decades.”
Due to Labor holding the balance of power, the Pandemic Bill passed through the Legislative Assembly in only two days and will now be debated in the Legislative Council in two weeks.
Ms Bath labelled Labor’s Pandemic Bill ‘undemocratic’, saying she will oppose it clause by clause because it’s a complete overreach of political power.
“I’ve been inundated by thousands of distressed Victorians outraged at the Premier’s power grab,” said Ms Bath.
“Many constituents are shocked to learn the Premier’s pandemic orders can be applied to ‘classes of persons’ who can be identified by their ‘characteristics’ or ‘attributes’.
“It is highly concerning that Daniel Andrews is seeking to empower himself to rule by decree and issue orders based on an individual’s age, gender, sexual orientation and political belief or activity.
“The Premier has had 18 months to prepare for life after the pandemic and at the eleventh hour he drops 120 pages of controversial legislation to grant himself the power to shut down business and community without parliamentary scrutiny or comprehensive community consultation.
“Eight months ago, the Andrews Government said it would create pandemic specific legislation to end Victoria’s ongoing ‘State of Emergency’ after significant community backlash.
“Instead of listening to Victorians, the Premier has used the opportunity to issue himself with even more control over people’s lives and livelihoods.
“The legislation in its current form has no accountability, it’s based on a Captains call – it doesn’t allow for parliamentary oversight or debate, community consultation or transparent health advice. It even bypasses the Premier’s own cabinet.”
It’s expected three independent MP’s from the Greens, Animal Justice Party and Fiona Patten’s Reason Party will support Daniel Andrews’ drastic Bill.
Ms Bath said the wide sweeping powers within the Bill extend well beyond the existing ‘State of Emergency’ legislation which has seen Victorians become the most restricted citizens worldwide throughout the pandemic.
“If this legislation passes, the Premier will wield the power to declare a pandemic even if there is no specific disease in the state of Victoria, and he can lock down residents indefinitely – this is not democracy and the Bill must be withdrawn,” said Ms Bath.
The parliamentary e-petition opposing the Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management Bill which can be signed here https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/415