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Parliamentary showdown looms today over Daniel Andrews’ freedom of movement bars

13 October 2020

11:37 AM

13 October 2020

11:37 AM

Victorian Liberals will today move amendments to the controversial COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill that will scrap the five-kilometre rule that restricts the movement of Melburnians.

They will also move further amendments to prevent anything similar being reintroduced if the first amendment is successful.

They will surgically knock out the draconian rule restricting the movement of Melbournians.

New clauses 16A and 16B will be introduced that will mean the five-kilometre rule is revoked. A second amendment will ensure it is not remade.

The five-kilometre radius order it not scientifically based. It is effectively imposed by the Premier and likely was developed in his own office.

The opposition will need nine of the 11 crossbenchers in the Upper House to pass this amendment. It would then, if carried, return to the lower house where the Premier and his party would be confronted with this amendment.

Premier Andrews has refused to release any documents or assessments upon which this draconian five-kilometre order was based. The community is entitled to draw its own conclusions about the quality of these background documents.

Under the State of Emergency laws introduced by the government, the public is only allowed to move within a five kilometres radius of their home to exercise and shop.

Any other movement requires a special permit allowing the person to breach the radius rule. This generally only applies to limited categories of workers.

Melbourne businessman, Julian Gerner, has lodged a writ with the High Court challenging the five-kilometre radius law saying it is a disproportionate response to Covid-19 and runs afoul of the freedom of movement provisions implied in the constitution

Both these moves come as the World Health Organisation has warned against the use of lockdowns as the primary method to control COVID-19.

The WHO said that lockdowns should only have a limited use and that is to prepare any necessary emergency measures.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the aim was to “flatten the curve” and limited lockdowns helped achieve that.

Having flattened the curve there is no necessity for continued lockdowns and other restrictions on Victorian’s civil rights and liberties.

Even Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton acknowledged failings of the rule at Premier Daniel Andrews’ daily press conference this morning.

The Omnibus Bill will be debated this afternoon and into the evening and then move to Committee stage and the vote will later in the night.

Today Victorian Legislative Council MPs will have the ability to vote “yes” or “no” to these amendments; to vote for civil liberties or against them.

The choice should be clear and that is that there is no choice – just vote “yes”.

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