Premier Daniel Andrews has steadfastly defended new pandemic laws as political polls show Labor’s primary vote has nosedived.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has lashed back at criticism politicians weren’t consulted over new pandemic laws, claiming the opposition has been indulging in cheap political games.
The Victorian government has received heavy criticism over the new laws, which critics claim gives it unprecedented power to control Victorians.
The legislation, introduced to parliament this week, would give the Premier power to declare a pandemic for three months at a time and allow Health Minister Martin Foley to sign off on public health orders without the approval of the chief health officer.
Mr Andrews on Thursday said accusations the opposition wasn’t properly consulted were downright wrong.
“I’m not interested in having a debate with them, they can have their view, but they’re not entitled to their own facts, and it’s simply wrong to make the claims that they are making,” he told reporters.
“Keeping people safe is very important, having a legislative framework that’s robust and strong with more transparency, more oversight, more accountability than any framework in the country.
“They are the facts here and I won’t be getting into these political games because they don’t keep anyone safe.”
The Victorian government has claimed the new laws would provide a clear and streamlined framework for managing pandemics into the future to keep the community safe.
Mr Andrews has repeatedly said the laws will ensure the effective management of the Covid pandemic after the state of emergency expires on December 15, bringing in targeted legislation to implement crucial public health measures in the event of any future pandemics.
With the debate continuing in parliament, shadow attorney-general Tim Smith overnight claimed the laws would take freedoms away.
“You told us that if we all got vaccinated, which we all have, on November 24 the only restrictions we would need would be for quarantine and to lock out the unvaccinated,” Mr Smith said.
“These orders will constrain freedoms and rights that have been ripped from us over the last 18 months, but individual citizens can be banged up without charge at the minister’s pleasure.”
Mr Andrews said he would not talk about making amendments to the Bill and that it was modelled off legislation in both New Zealand and NSW.
Political polls released overnight show the popularity of new Liberal leader Matthew Guy is on the rise.
A survey conducted for The Age by Resolve Political Monitor found that despite Daniel Andrews remaining Victoria’s preferred premier and his party on track to win next year’s state election, Labor’s primary vote had fallen from 43 to 38 per cent since the last state election.
According to the polls, Mr Guy gained an 8 per cent advantage on former leader Michael O’Brien, with 31 per cent of voters believing he should become the next premier.
“Polls are not something I’m spending much if any time thinking about,” Mr Andrews said on Thursday.
“The only numbers I’m concerned about every morning is the number of people that have got vaccinated.”