27 May 2021

Tim Quilty says his private members bill would limit lockdown nonsense

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty says a private members bill he has introduced in Parliament would make the Victorian Government think twice before overreacting with snap lockdowns.

Mr Quilty introduced the Emergency Powers Safeguard Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 earlier this month which would place limits on how the Government uses its emergency powers.

The Wodonga MP says his bill would force the Government to think very carefully before closing down the state.

“These snap lockdowns of the entire state cause enormous damage which is totally disproportionate to the problem, and my bill would ensure this nonsense is not repeated,” Mr Quilty said.

“This lockdown overreaction is going to send $1 billion down the drain because businesses won’t be able to operate, and we can’t afford to have this happen yet again.

“It’s precisely the same nonsense as we saw last time, with no lessons learned.

“Restrictions under the emergency powers are supposed to be proportional and impinge on our rights to the minimum level necessary. Anything more is unlawful, yet this government has been chucking around these state-wide lockdowns with impunity, and refusing to provide the assessments they use to impose them.

“My bill would make the Government and its bureaucrats think twice, because they could be facing up to five years in prison if it can be demonstrated they acted recklessly in imposing unlawful restrictions.

“Causing such enormous damage to the whole state, when lesser options are available, seems pretty reckless to me.”

Mr Quilty said the bill is due for debate in the second week of June, just after the lockdown ends.

“Everybody in Parliament will have the lockdown fresh in mind when they debate the bill, and they will have been snowed under by complaints,” Mr Quilty said.

“Across the state will be tens of thousands of employees who will have lost another week’s work, and school kids who have lost another week of classes.

“While we all sit around in lockdown, there will be nothing to distract from the anxiety of paying the rent or making the mortgage payment, paying grocery bills and even the additional energy cost of staying home with the heating on.

“Hopefully they will be more than happy to share their thoughts with their MPs, who will then be debating my bill with these voices ringing in their ears.”

Mr Quilty’s bill would impose limits on the use of the emergency powers, and carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison for politicians or bureaucrats recklessly or knowingly issuing an unlawful authorisation under the emergency provisions.

“We can’t conveniently forget democracy during a crisis, and we can’t give politicians and government bureaucrats unlimited powers to play games with our lives,” Mr Quilty said.

“Government unlawful over-reach, including unnecessary lockdowns, has caused widespread social and economic damage and it is vital we restrict this in future, with parliamentary oversight.

“The Victorian Government has learned precisely nothing since last year and we are all paying the price.”