The newly appointed President of the Victorian Bar Róisín Annesley QC said the Victorian Government’s proposed amendments to the Pandemic Management Bill do not go far enough to protect the rule of law.
“The proposed amendments largely address low priority issues and not the most fundamental problems with the Bill,” she said.
“The major issues include the lack of effective parliamentary control over the Minister’s pandemic orders and the lack of provision for an independent review of authorised officers exercise of power.”
The Victorian Bar made a detailed submission to both the Department of Health and an Expert Reference Group following a briefing on the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 on 3 November.
The submission addressed the intent of the Bill and specific sections and recommended a number of amendments. As part of its submission the Victorian Bar said:
— The Bill must be amended so that pandemic orders can be disallowed by either House of Parliament without the need for a Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee (SARC) recommendation.
— Individuals who are detained must be able to seek a merits review of their detention by an independent court. Internal review by a person who is employed by the Department of Health is not an acceptable independent safeguard.