There is a “can’t-happen-here” attitude even as it is happening. A just-in story in The Age: New pandemic legislation passes Victorian Parliament’s lower house. The legislation has nothing to do with medical care. It is entirely about Daniel Andrews taking power into his own hands. Here’s the story.
Victoria’s new pandemic laws passed State Parliament’s Labor-controlled lower house on Thursday evening following two days of heated debate in which MPs hurled abuse at one another across the chamber.
Earlier in the day, Premier Daniel Andrews responded to criticism from the president of the Victorian Bar saying the claim by Christopher Blanden, QC, that the government had not properly consulted the barristers’ peak body about the legislation was “factually wrong”.
[The issue is NOT whether there was proper consultation. The issue is whether such legislation should ever be introduced into a free society.]
The government’s proposed pandemic legislation will replace state of emergency powers which expire on December 15, curtailing the chief health officer’s powers, giving the premier the authority to declare a pandemic and the health minister the role of making public health orders.
[And what follows from the Premier declaring a state of emergency? Are these provisions acceptable is the issue.]
The bill passed by 51 votes to 26.
The opposition, many crossbench MPs, and legal groups have raised concerns about various aspects of the legislation, including what they say is a lack of checks and balances on the government’s powers.
[More detail would be welcome.]
Mr Blanden on Wednesday described the proposed laws as “appalling” and claimed the government had “grossly misrepresented” its consultation with the Victorian Bar.
He said the Department of Health officials conducted a 45-minute online meeting with him to discuss the issue of whether the chief health officer should retain the authority to declare a pandemic.
“That’s factually wrong,” Mr Andrews said. “There’s a lot of [online Microsoft Teams] meetings going on at the moment, we’re in a global pandemic. I’m terribly sorry if a Teams meeting wasn’t sufficient, there’s literally hundreds of thousands of Teams meetings.
The upper house will debate the bill in Parliament in three weeks and it is likely to pass with the approval of Samantha Ratnam, Fiona Patten and Andy Meddick, who were involved in the negotiations.
And there you have it. Why are so few people concerned? Why is The Age unconcerned?