Victoria has invented a new type of law: medical law. Medical law is enshrined in Victorian law by emergency orders made under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic). Medical law is like martial law but it’s for your own good.
Medical law and martial law do share a lot of attributes: house arrest, night curfews, restrictions on movement, restrictions on association, restrictions on speech, restrictions on religion, restrictions on practising a trade/profession, roadblocks, population surveillance, military vehicles, teargas, rubber bullets and a stern leader at a lectern.
Like martial law, medical law also admits cruel farce. Right now in Victoria, it is probably illegal to acquire a new sexual partner unless your first coupling is in public.
A lot of things are probably illegal in Victoria right now.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Act was pushed through the Victorian parliament by Daniel Andrews when he was health minister in the Brumby Government.
This enabling act has imposed medical law on Victoria since 16 March 2020. It was initially only for 4 weeks but it has been extended 20 times.
Originally medical law could only be declared for 6 months but a pliant Victorian Parliament amended the Enabling Act twice to circumnavigate that inconvenience.
Medical law ends at midnight on 21 October 2021 but it will be extended. Even so, the enabling act does not presently allow it to be extended beyond 15 December 2021.
The declaration of medical law prompted a whole of government response in Victoria.
The Victorian Parliament’s initial response was to stop sitting. Or at least it tried to stop sitting—like the Chinese National People’s Congress it was only recalled to rubberstamp legislation. Parliament has otherwise sat sporadically. Daniel Andrews says he has other priorities: “I think if you ask Victorians whether people giving speeches on the floor of the Parliament is as important as getting jabs into the arms of people … I am not going to apologise for the priorities I have got.”
The fines for breaching medical law are found in the Public Health Regulations, which the Health Minister can and does amend at will. No need for Parliament. Originally, there were no fines in the Regulations for failing to comply with medical law. Fines now exceed $10,000 because the Minister said so.
Courts operate via unwieldy virtual courtrooms. Personal attendance at court is limited to non-existent. Trial by a jury of your peers is essentially suspended.
The bureaucratic arm of the Victorian Government, including schools, has retreated into an online universe of virtual contact with the citizenry.
A request of the Department of Health under the Freedom of Information Act for the evidence on which the Chief Health Officer relied before declaring medical law and for copies of the communications between the Chief Health Officer, the Minister and the Premier was met with the response, “the work involved in processing the request…would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations.” They were too busy.
Victoria Police’s response deserves special mention. In this short video you can see Victoria Police unnecessarily kicking, tackling, head-slamming, punching, kneeing, rifle-butting, pepper-spraying, choking and pointing firearms at unarmed fleeing civilians. And that was just the last fortnight.
The police response has been much wider than that. Victoria Police are on to it–from widespread electronic surveillance of the population, roadblocks and vehicle recognition on the arterial routes out of Melbourne, violently suppressing public protest, controlling public transport into and the air space over Melbourne to maintaining a Berlin Wall around Melbourne and a larger Berlin Wall around the state.
As mentioned above, the enabling act does not allow medical law to extend beyond 15 December 2021; by when it will have operated for 21 months.
Chances are the enabling act will be amended to make some parts of medical law permanent in Victoria.
To achieve that the Andrews Government needs some of the crossbench members in the Legislative Council to vote to amend the enabling act. Rumours are circulating of backroom deals to buy off the sectional interests of some of those crossbenchers.
As at the date of writing Victoria has more new daily infections, has more active Covid-19 infections, and has had more deaths than all of the other Australian States and Territories combined. By every measure, medical law has failed to achieve its intended outcomes in Victoria.
A public enquiry was unable to determine how a quarantine program spontaneously self-organised, failed spectacularly and killed 800 people; mostly in government-regulated nursing homes. The week before last the Department of Health was charged with 58 criminal offences for its role in that disaster.
Melbourne, once the most liveable, is now the most locked-down city in the world and a politicised police are patrolling the streets stomping on anyone who will not do what they are told.
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