The Victorian Bar has called for the Daniel Andrews government to review its proposed pandemic legislation.
60 QCs have signed an open letter that accuses the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 of creating the legal conditions to allow Daniel Andrews and the Labor government to ‘effectively rule the State of Victoria by decree for the foreseeable future, without proper parliamentary oversight or the usual checks and balances on executive power’.
Among the recent signatories are some of Melbourne’s most prominent legal minds, including former chief crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert QC, the Black Saturday bushfires royal commissioner Jack Rush QC, and Andrew Kirkham QC who served as the former IBAC deputy commissioner.
“Think of the politician you least like or trust, and imagine them holding such unchecked power,” said Paul Hayes QC.
81,527 ordinary Australians have signed the Rebel News petition to ‘Kill the Bill’.
The controversial legislation, which has sparked major protests outside Parliament in Victoria, has already passed the Labor majority-held Lower House. With the help of three independents, it is expected to successfully navigate the Upper House at the end of the month.
Also stated within the letter is a concern that the Bill has the potential to grant the Chief Health Officer and his authorised officers ‘an unlimited and practically unreviewable power’.
The subjective threshold of these pandemic powers marks a significant shift from the tightly constrained emergency powers which Victoria has been operating under for the duration of the pandemic.