The Spectator Australia’s campaign against the heinous Covid-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill that attacked the civil liberties and rights of all Victorians has been vindicated.
The SpecOz was the first news outlet to raise concerns about the draconian Bill and written consistently that the Bill must be abandoned
We repeat that call today.
Today, the state Labor government has today partially backtracked on its draconian COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill by making suggesting some amendments in response to concerns first raised in our campaign, concerns echoed by the legal community.
Attorney General, Jill Hennessy, is reported in the media as saying the government will abandon measure that allow for “preventative” detention of people and tightening of the scope of newly minted “authorised officers”
Further, she said the heinous clause which allowed designated officers to detain a person “if they “reasonably believed” a person was not compliant with emergency measures.
These amendments are welcome, but there is only need for one amendment: that is the complete excision from the Bill of the changes to the Public Health and Well Being Act 2008 that have been proposed.
Throughout the debate, the government has been unable to justify the necessity for any element of the Bill.
Premier Daniel Andrews has not been able to specify one circumstance since the beginning of the pandemic where the new laws would have been necessary.
Nor can there be any justification with the decline in infections across the state.
And how can the government continue to tighten the noose on civil liberties and rights as they ease other restrictions? It is nonsensical.
Fiona Patton of the Reason Party has said the Bill is a “solution looking for a problem.”
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission says all laws relating to the pandemic need to be “necessary, justifiable and time limited.” The government has not been able to do this.
The revised Bill must immediately be released for public consultation before being debated in the Legislative Council next week.
Serious concerns still remain.
Even though the Attorney General says the powers of “authorised officers” will be limited, what exactly will they be limited?
Critically it would seem that the hapless Secretary of the DHHS, Kym Peake, would still be responsible for the appointment for “authorised officer” and the Chief Health Officer responsible for giving them emergency powers directions.
These are the same people that allegedly managed the Hotel Quarantine Scheme which unleashed the second wave of coronavirus across the state — the same department that counsel assisting the Inquiry into the debacle, Ben Ihles, said may have acted illegally.
The Bill as it stands still has serious repercussions for civil rights and liberties in Victoria.
The Andrews Government’s changes today do not spell out in any detail just what will remain in the Bill.
Concerns about the opacity and lack of specificity in the Bill as has previously been outlined still remain.
Today represents a lower case “v’ for partial victory against the swingeing attack on civil liberties and rights that the Bill represents; a win on the battlefield.
Only with the complete excision of amendments to the Health and Well Being Act as outlined in the Bill will we — and all those who care about civil liberties — be able to claim a capital “V” victory.
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