Upper house

Sutton sidelined, advice will be made public under new pandemic laws

When the government struck a deal in March to extend the state of emergency for nine months, it promised Dr Ratnam, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick that he would write a pandemic specific legislation.

Once the new laws, titled Public Health and Welfare (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021, are passed by Parliament this week or next month as planned, they will be active from December and will apply to all future pandemics.

Government staff accidentally circulated the summary of the bill to opposition MPs and all benches on Monday night, the day before Health Minister Martin Foley hoped to release details.

The summary contains an admission that “due to the short time frame and complexity of the development of this bill, consultation was not as extensive as it would normally be”. Thirty external stakeholders were consulted in June and July.

The new independent committee, made up of experts in public health and human rights, will not have a veto but will be able to review any government decision.

All decisions will also be accompanied by a summary of how they correspond to the Charter of Human Rights and State Responsibilities.

Police will only be able to access QR code registration data, largely collected when the state reopens, if there is an imminent threat to someone’s life and they obtain an order from the Supreme Court. .

This was a key request from Dr Ratnam after it emerged in June that Victoria Police had made three unsuccessful preliminary requests for registration data.

Ms Patten said she hoped the new legislation would provide a greater degree of transparency.

“I am encouraged that we will see a level of transparency that we have not seen in any jurisdiction and this is definitely something that is important to me if I want to support legislation,” she said.

“A review mechanism [is also important]. The only organization that has really taken into account the actions of these orders has really been the ombudsman, so hopefully we can somehow ensure that this type of control or review is done by experts. – and not by demonstrators fighting against freedom. ”

A previous demand from the Greens that police should record the racial appearance of people they arrest or fine does not appear to be included in the final bill.

Shadow Attorney General Tim Smith said the clause that allowed the prime minister to declare a pandemic for three months at a time was “grossly overbroad”.

He said the Coalition would introduce an amendment that would prevent powers from being extended for more than a month without being approved by parliament.

“This scandalous takeover by Daniel Andrews should send shivers down the spines of any freedom-loving Victorians,” Smith said.

A government spokesperson said the bill was designed to keep Victorians safe. “Having considered the powers of other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales and New Zealand, and having settled the issues with an independent panel of experts, tomorrow we will present a bill to Parliament to deal with the pandemics in the future, ”they said.

The state recorded 1,461 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with seven more deaths.

A woman in her 20s with COVID-19 was among those included in Monday’s death figures, although Health Minister Martin Foley said she died in unrelated circumstances.

“This person’s dramatic death was not caused by COVID-19. “


A total of 802 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 152 of whom were in intensive care, 92 of whom were on a ventilator.

Authorities have confirmed that 74.7 percent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated and 91.4 percent have received at least one dose as the state rushes towards 80 percent double-dose. That target is expected to be met on Friday when from 6 p.m. non-essential stores will be allowed to reopen indoors for the first time since August.

Retail workers will need to have received their first dose by then, but have not been given a date by which they will need to be fully immunized.

“Of course, we want everyone to be vaccinated; that’s how you participate in the wider community, ”Foley said on Monday.

“But with regard to these provisions, we will not exclude this workforce until we have [a] reasonable opportunity.

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