It seems that the Victorian Labor government has become fed up with having to operate in a parliamentary democracy. The Age reports that the government is ‘secretly negotiating permanent pandemic laws to replace state of emergency.’ If passed, such laws would remove the annoying requirement for the government to go back to parliament on a regular basis to justify its ‘emergency’ lockdown (and other) powers.
I suppose that from the government’s perspective this is perfectly reasonable. It’s not the fault of the government (they’d say) that, over the last 470 or more days, the government has locked down the people of Victoria for some 175 days—and counting.
Victorians (the government would say) don’t behave themselves and run around the state spreading the Covid virus. It’s not the fault of the government. It’s ‘the people’ who are to blame! The government has no choice but to lock people in their homes, close businesses, (except union construction sites of course) and give stern lectures.
It’s not the fault of the government that the Victorian contact tracing system can’t keep track early in virus detection when numbers are really small. Just because the other states are successful doesn’t mean that the Victorian government has proven to be incompetent. Again it’s the people’s fault. Victorians won’t do as they are told. Victorians won’t complete QR codes even when the government asks nicely!
And let’s not talk about hotel quarantine. The constant failures to manage hotel quarantine is not the government’s fault. Government workers are trying really hard (the Victorian government would say) but ‘people’ just keep misbehaving! And anyone who criticises the hotel quarantine failures is really criticising ‘front line workers’. That’s not fair! And that’s why the Victorian government has given all public servants a two per cent pay rise. Public servants are such hard-working people they deserve more money!.
And those ‘angry’ small business people who resent the public servants’ pay rise should just behave themselves. After all, it’s the public servants who are saving the rest of ‘the people’ from the Covid disease.
By the way, who was that gothic looking female gym owner who appeared on ABC breakfast last week? How dare she complain that the Victorian government is still keeping gyms closed. She should know better. How rude was her reply to the ABC presenter who stated that it’s ‘all for the common good!’ How dare goth-woman gym owner say that gym workers are living in poverty because of no work! Bloody gym capitalist! That just goes to show how selfish Victorian people are! At least this is what the government is presumably thinking.
It’s this likely government thinking that gives them their justification for removing themselves from “the people’s” parliamentary oversight. The planned laws are reported to cover all future pandemics, not just Covid, enabling emergency powers to be declared without parliamentary approval. So depending on the detailed definition of ‘pandemic’ within the legislation, could a (normal) yearly flu outbreak or even heavy transmission of the common cold be declared a ‘pandemic’? Who knows?
This proposed legislation is set to pass. The Labor government reportedly has support from three key independents, Animal Justice, Reason (previously: Australian Sex Party ) and The Greens in the Victorian Upper House to secure legislative passage.
And the law’s passage will no doubt be encouraged when Premier Andrews returns to work on 28 June. (That is, by the way, one day before the Victorian WorkSafe Authority is required to report on whether it’s prosecuting the government for the hotel quarantine breaches of 2020.)
In summary, the approach of the Victorian Labor government to running Victoria is probably summarised in this proposal to remove parliamentary approval of the government’s emergency power. After all, the government would reason, the people are the problem. The people won’t behave! We, the government, are kindly, if somewhat stern, but we do everything for ‘the greater good’. Therefore we should not have to report to the people!
Ken Phillips is Executive Director of Self Employed Australia.
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