A move by the Andrews Labor Government to extend its power to enforce strict lockdowns on Victorian families and businesses for a further 12 months will not be supported by Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh.
The State of Emergency powers allow the Government to impose and enforce restrictions, with no oversight or accountability.
Mr Walsh said The Nationals will propose amendments to the legislation this week to make sure the right checks and balances are in place to protect Victorians’ lives and livelihoods.
“We are looking to the Premier to give us a pathway back to life and instead he’s given us a pathway that involves more lockdowns,” Mr Walsh said.
“Under the State of Emergency powers, the Andrews Labor Government has closed local businesses, put local people out of work and stopped local kids going to school.
“The Premier really needs to start being honest with Victorians and tell us what his plan is to get us to ‘COVID normal’ – as we’ve seen in other Australian states.
“But Labor’s telling us we’re staring down the barrel of 12 more months of lockdowns at a time when the Government should be giving Victorians hope it has a plan out of this.”
Amendments to be proposed include requiring extensions to be approved by both Chambers of Parliament for a maximum of four weeks and to remove the proposal for the powers to apply, even when there no active COVID-19 cases.
Mr Walsh said any change to extend the State of Emergency powers must be common sense.
“No government should be able to write itself a blank cheque for extreme power over Victorians’ lives and livelihoods,” Mr Walsh said.
“Regional Victoria is only in the second wave of COVID-19 due to the inexcusable failures of the Andrews Labor Government including the botched hotel quarantine program and shortfalls in contact tracing.
“The Nationals will always stand for country Victorians’ rights and freedoms in the face of government overreach.”
The Nationals’ amendments are essential to ensure that the Andrews Labor Government does not continue to bypass Parliament and misuse these extraordinary State of Emergency powers in ways that damage Victorian lives and livelihoods.
The Nationals’ five key principles include:
- State Of Emergency may only renewed on a month-by-month basis subject to Parliamentary approval in both chambers
- Removal of Clause 6 of the Bill which lowers the threshold for the Chief Health Officer to exercise State of Emergency powers
- Confirming that the right of Parliament to meet cannot be undermined by State of Emergency directions
- Remove the proposal for current State of Emergency powers to apply even when there are no COVID-19 cases in Victoria
- Any amendments to renew State of Emergency powers are only applicable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other oversight and transparency measures will also be proposed.