A deadline of 5.00 pm this Wednesday for submissions to a Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee inquiry is woefully inadequate.
To allow the Victorian public less than 48 hours in which to prepare submissions on a Bill, the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020, that clearly infringes rights and liberties, stripping away established protections through watered down rules on the designation of “authorised officers”, is clearly designed to shield Daniel Andrews from scrutiny and criticism.
These new authorised officers will have wide and largely unchecked powers of arrest and detention under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. Respected lawyers and former judges have expressed concern about the Bill’s untrammelled powers. The Bar Council has expressed concerns about the Omnibus Bill.
I have written to the Chair of the SARC on 28 September demanding the Committee hold public hearings and a full inquiry in the two weeks that remain before the Bill is dealt with in the Upper House. Labor forced it through the Lower House without the views of SARC or indeed any proper examination of the Bill’s serious infringements of rights and privileges.
For SARC to agree to this inquiry, but only allow two days for submissions, is a betrayal of the rights and liberties of the Victorian public. It is a deliberate attempt to minimise public input and scrutiny.