Victoria’s fast-tracked pandemic bill: vital but flawed

There are key areas in this significant piece of legislation where there is room for improvement, ensuring a better balance between public safety and democratic commitments.

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(Image: AAP/James Ross)

Last Wednesday, the Victorian government introduced a fast-tracked bill into Parliament that would create a legal framework for dealing with future pandemics. So far, much of the criticism of the state’s Pandemic Management Bill has been unconstructive and sensationalised. Many of the solutions proposed are unworkable, including an amendment limiting the government’s ability to declare a pandemic for no more than 30 days unless it has a special majority vote in both houses of Parliament. 

Victorian government officials have seized on this, labelling any criticism as “hysterical” or “conspiratorial nonsense”. More recently, a key crossbencher who worked with the government on the bill has described criticism as “fear-mongering.”

There is no doubt that a new law is needed to cope with the new challenges of pandemic management. This includes a vast array of new challenges — from the handling of QR code check-in material to the precise position of unelected chief health officers in decision-making. And the law does contain important solutions and safeguards to these emerging issues.  

How can Victoria’s Pandemic Management Plan be improved? Read on…

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