As Victoria emerges from lockdown, this week’s announcement of the state’s new pandemic laws have surprised many.
With 262 days of lockdown to its name, Victoria has been home to some of the most divisive pandemic politics in the country. Even with restrictions finally ending, nerves are frayed, emotions are high, and exhaustion clouds everyone’s judgment.
So just as Victorians were trying to forget the past 18 months, new pandemic laws have taken many by surprise.
Under the changes, the premier and health minister will be empowered to declare pandemics and impose public health orders — a departure from the current arrangement under which the chief health officer holds most of the power. People found guilty of “intentionally and recklessly” breaching public health orders would face two years’ jail or a $90,000 fine, and a minister can detain a person for as long as they think is “reasonably necessary”.
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