The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said the Andrews government being forced to backdown on bulldozing its controversial pandemic laws through Parliament is just the beginning.
Mr Walsh said the only reason Daniel Andrews has taken such a public setback is because Victorians have finally woken up to the “insidious agenda of power and secrecy” that surrounds everything the Premier does.
He said those same Victorians are still waiting to see the 100 pages of “best medical advice” used by the Premier to make this state the most locked down in the world.
“Tactics without rhyme or reason; tactics which have smashed the economy; divided communities and were fanned by a fear mongering campaign that still lingers on as we approach 90 per cent vaccination – the point at which we must have our freedom day,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s in the national plan, it is being done in NSW and yet all we see from this Premier is a bullying campaign to not restore our freedoms and rights but a bid to curb them indefinitely,” he said.
“This is not democratic government; that is why the first thing a Liberals Nationals government will do when elected is repeal the whole legislation and replace it with something to protect the people; not imprison them.
“And this is not a government that makes decisions for the people, it is a government for which decisions are made by the polls – its pursuit of power in insatiable.”
Mr Walsh said the Opposition will still attempt to move 18 amendments to the Bill.
He said while there was little doubt the Bill would pass, supported by fringe independents with no mandate from the people to be involved in such sweeping and far-reaching laws.
“Who knows what some of these fringe players sold their souls for; but it doesn’t alter the fact this is a flawed Bill and no amount of tinkering or changes will make it acceptable,” Mr Walsh added.
A position endorsed by the Victorian Bar, which said the Bill “seeks to take powers that were intended to be used for a very limited period of up to six months in an unforeseen emergency, and to entrench them as the ordinary method of dealing with pandemic diseases over extended periods”.
“The rule of law, the sovereignty of parliament and the checks and balances of our democratic Westminster system of government must be respected, even in times of emergency or crisis,” it said.
“It may be convenient for the government to have the broadest and most flexible powers possible to deal with pandemic diseases. However, the rule of law cannot bow to convenience.”
Victoria’s leading business groups have also urged a revision of the Bill.
A joint statement by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group said serious issues with the proposed laws needed to be worked through.
“This legislation is designed for the long term, not just the current pandemic,” it said.
“That is why all political parties should consider this proposal in a bipartisan way and think about the consequences of the legislation in another era.
“This is not about the current administration and current pandemic. It needs to be foolproof and not be open to abuse by any future premier, minister or government.”