Despite government opposition, Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty's controversial bill to safeguard emergency powers is one step closer to becoming law.
The bill aims to limit how the government can use emergency powers and proposes a five-year jail-term for any politician or bureaucrat who "recklessly or knowingly issues an unlawful authorisation under the emergency provision".
Seven members of parliament spoke in support of the bill during its second reading in the Legislative Council yesterday, including opposition and crossbench members, though some expressed concerns about the proposed jail-term.
However, Labor MP Harriet Shing said the government would not support the bill.
She said Victoria needed to continue under emergency declarations while pandemic-specific legislation was worked on, which she pointed out, other jurisdiction can do without seeking extensions.
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"Last year we as a state worked too hard to contain the outbreaks which shut us down for much of the year to now forsake these gains in favour of a bill and an amendment such as this one," Ms Shing said.
Fellow Labor MP Nina Taylor said as a member of parliament Mr Quilty had the opportunity to question the Chief Health Officer every month and scrutinise reports on the extension
"To suggest that this government wants to see restrictions last any longer than they have to in order to keep Victorians safe is outrageous," she said.
Speaking in support of the bill Liberal MP Georgie Crozier said no other state in Australia was in the position of being in its fourth lockdown.
She said it was important "that the exercise of power by unelected officials that we are seeing today... does not go unchecked".
Mr Quilty labelled the government's pandemic management 'incompetent'.
"You have used the emergency powers like a club, smashing the people of the state to cover up the systemic failures, and there are no consequences for this," he said.
Mr Quilty said the bill does not prevent the government using emergency powers.
"It merely makes the government accountable to the parliament for its use of emergency powers and requires the government to use the powers appropriately," he said.
The bill will now be considered by the Committee of the Whole before a third reading.
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