Above – Drone and on-ground video footage of the protests on 13th November to proposed Victorian emergency pandemic laws have been widely published by mainstream media and on social media
Thousands of Victorians came out on the streets over the weekend (13th November) to protest proposals to give Victorian premier Dan Andrews almost complete power to declare a pandemic and the health minister enforce public health orders, at any time and with no time limit. Numbers were reported from 10,000 to over 100,000 people.
The Victorian government claim the new law is a better alternative to the State of Emergency rules that are currently used to manage the COVID pandemic, as is it will strip authority from the Chief Health Medical Officer – a non elected position – to impose restrictions.
The proposed new law has received widespread opposition. Matthew Guy, the Victorian opposition leader has described the proposal as “an incredible attack on democracy” and more than 60 Queens Counsel barristers & solicitors have signed an open letter stating the new law would allow the Victorian premier to rule by decree.
The new law would make organising events a challenging prospect and it potentially undermines the certainty that is essential for a thriving and sustainable events sector. The premier would be able to declare a pandemic, even in the absence of one in Victoria, the declaration could be renewed every three months and with no limit.
People breaking public health orders under the new law, such as protesting or not wearing a mask, could face fines of up to $90,000 & two years in jail and businesses receive fines of up to $452,500. The health minister would be able issue public health orders to particular classifications of people based on where they live, how they live, event attended, age, vaccination status and type of job.
Certain government employees would be given powers to enforce any proposed restrictions, ensure compliance and issue directions to members of the public.