Wendy Harris QC, President of the Victorian Bar, today launched the Victorian Bar’s Guide to COVID-19 Pandemic Declarations, Directions and Determinations for Victoria.
“The measures taken by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments following the State of Emergency declared on 16 March 2020 have had an immense impact on how Victorians live, work and play. The governments’ declarations, directions and determinations over the past six weeks have been extraordinary and unprecedented - yet absolutely necessary to protect Australians from the health crisis, and the devastating economic fallout, the world now faces”, Ms Harris said.
"Most people willingly abide by the behavioural changes, cultural and industrial shifts imposed on us, but for those reluctant to comply our governments have – as we have seen – the legal authority to enforce them. The emergency powers invoked by the government exist for an eventuality like this and contingencies were in place in anticipation of a health and biosecurity crisis of precisely the kind we now face long before the emergence of this pandemic. To that end, the Commonwealth and Victorian governments had prepared for this situation by having in place legislation such as the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth) and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) and its regulations, which give authorities specific powers to enforce measures to regulate our activity to combat both infectious disease and threats to human health on a nationally significant scale.
“This thorough and useful guide has been put together by Dr Michael Taylor, a member of the Victorian Bar who practises in public law and with specialist expertise in health law and in regulatory policy, based on his knowledge, experience and exhaustive research of this legislation and current governments directives. We trust this guide will give the community certainty and a clear understanding as to how our public health is being protected in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the legislative foundations on which these measures are based."
The Guide to COVID-19 Pandemic Declarations, Directions and Determinations for Victoria is at this link here.
As part of Law Week (18-24 May), Dr Michael Taylor will present Public Health and Public Order: Emergency Powers and the COVID-19 Pandemic Response, which will cover the justifications for the government's use of emergency powers in response to COVID-19 from two perspectives: public health and a public order. Registrations are open for members of the public here.
Elizabeth Gray on +61 401 561 554 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org