26 August 2020

Victorian crossbencher Fiona Patten: “The state of emergency gives the government extraordinary powers — an almost unchecked ability to make new laws and override existing laws administratively, without Parliament. To extend those powers to 18 months, without checks and balances is a misstep. In my view it’s an overreach. … My first preference would be for COVID-19 specific legislation that deals directly with the issues at hand. Something that deals directly with the effects of the crisis we are experiencing now and measures to enable us to continue to live, work and play safely in this state of COVID-19. If that cannot happen, an extension of a state of emergency, could be achieved in a safer and more democratic way — with appropriate checks, balances and oversight. I want to see this bill re-drafted to permit three, or possibly six month extensions, but only if supported by a majority in Parliament. That way we are not dispensing with democracy and we are not removing civil liberties without a safety net. Parliament is not the government and they should welcome oversight during this difficult period — not shun transparency.”