9 June 2021

Emergency powers bill passes through second stage despite strong Government resistance

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has cleared a major hurdle with his legislation to rein in the Victorian Government’s emergency powers.

Mr Quilty introduced the Emergency Powers Safeguard Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 last month which would force the Government to be more careful in how it manages COVID outbreaks.

Despite strong Government resistance, the Private Members Bill passed the Second Reading and has been forwarded to committee for detailed examination.

“This bill sends a strong message to Daniel Andrews, James Merlino and Martin Foley that Victorians will not be treated like mindless livestock when it comes to locking us all down again and again,” Mr Quilty said.

“As expected, the Labor MPs were united in their condemnation of the bill because it threatens politicians and bureaucrats with actual penalties if they can be proven to act recklessly in unlawfully imposing lockdowns – including prison time.

“If there is one thing this government desperately doesn’t want, it is to be held to account for anything.

“But the chamber agreed to pass the bill to the next stage.

“I’d like to thank all of the Victorians who contacted their local crossbench MPs in the Upper House urging them to support this bill.

“My office sent out a message asking supporters to lend a hand, and it seems Victorians were willing to do so.”

Mr Quilty said the bill will now be examined by the Committee of the Whole, which allows MPs to question him about specific aspects of the bill as well as potential implications.

“The next stage will be an opportunity for an in-depth examination of the bill and to explore how it will work,” Mr Quilty said.

“But it’s also an opportunity to clarify just how important this legislation is for all of Victoria, so I’m looking forward to that chance.”

But Mr Quilty expressed concern the committee will not take place for some time and could lead to the bill being left in limbo.

“We had hoped to push the bill through today and get to a conclusion. But instead government MPs talked out our limited time and it is now bogged down, waiting on a future debating slot,” Mr Quilty said. 

“We will do what we can to ensure this bill gets to the make or break Third Reading – and if it passes that test, then it will face the even steeper hurdle of the Lower House, where the Andrews Government rules the roost.”