Media release 23rd June 2021.
The Victorian Government is avoiding scrutiny of its COVID response, according to new research from the Centre for Public Integrity.
The research finds:
- The COVID response has seen excessive power placed in the hands of individual Ministers and the Chief Health Officer;
- These powers have been exercised by public health Directions in the form of legislative instruments, which are laws made outside of Parliament;
- These public health Directions have avoided accountability, including by not being tabled in Parliament, not being scrutinised by the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, and being exempt from disallowance;
- The Victorian Government was not complying with scrutiny requirements in the Subordinate Legislation Act, until they changed the law to specifically exclude public health Directions from these requirements;
- New pandemic laws must ensure Parliamentary scrutiny is reinstated, and executive power is reined in.
“Major decisions affecting the lives of millions of Victorians have been made without any accountability mechanisms in place,” said Han Aulby, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Integrity.
“Increased executive power in times of crisis must be met with sensible and democratic oversight. Parliament is the foundational institution of our democracy and should be the source of major laws,” said Mx Aulby.
“Any long term pandemic laws must ensure that health directions are tabled in Parliament, scrutinised by committee, and subject to disallowance,” they said.