MEDIA RELEASE

23 February 2021

 

Tim Quilty says Government should listen to legal experts' views on emergency powers

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty says the Victorian Government must listen to legal experts who say emergency powers do not need to be - and should not be - extended.

Marcus Clarke QC, Vanessa Plain and Dr Jason Harkess have written a draft bill which proposes amendments to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act to deal with COVID without continuing the state of emergency.

“The Andrews Government will next week try to ram legislation through the Upper House to extend its emergency powers until December, giving us another nine months of emergency rule,” Mr Quilty said.

“The current emergency powers are due to expire on March 15 and I believe Premier Daniel Andrews has had enough time to work out how to better manage this virus.

“Three barristers have drafted legislation to do just this, but Mr Andrews is determined to continue his rule by decree under the state of emergency.

“He has been using emergency powers to cover up all the mistakes his Government has made in hotel quarantine, but now is the time for him to actually fix the flaws and make that system watertight.

“We have seen that it is – quite literally – springing leaks everywhere, so Mr Andrews wants to keep these emergency powers to cover his own back.”

Mr Quilty said the three legal experts believe we are no longer in an emergency.

“Mr Clarke, Ms Plain and Dr Harkess say there is no legal justification for extending emergency powers and that methods of dealing with the pandemic can be written into existing legislation,” Mr Quilty said.

“This takes away the blank cheque Mr Andrews has been using so destructively and instead creates limited but effective powers to respond to COVID infections.

“I have long stated this Government needs to employ more elegant solutions for a problem which is no longer new or mysterious.

“We cannot and should not be on the verge of lockdown at the drop of a hat because of amateurish mistakes in the management of quarantine - communities in Mildura or Bright or Wodonga should not be living with the threat of yet another pointless and damaging lockdown.

“When the upper house extended the state of emergency six months ago, it was made clear to the Government that it was unlikely to happen again.

“The Government claims that there has just not been enough time in the last six months to draft specific legislation, but these legal experts have drawn up this draft bill in just days, proving the Government’s claims are false.

“Mr Andrews has had the legal expertise of the Victorian Government Solicitors Office to hand throughout this pandemic, yet he insists on wielding these emergency powers like a club, time and again.

“He is not interested in solutions, all he wants is unlimited control of everyday Victorians.”

For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819