With Victoria’s pandemic declaration finally set to expire tonight, it is timely to outline the Liberals and Nationals’ Future Pandemic Management Plan.
It has been an extraordinarily challenging period to be a Victorian and to be a Melburnian.
We have all lived through the mismanagement of a government driven by politics instead of people, and panic instead of common-sense.
Victorians have been subjected to curfews not recommended by health advice, inhumane border closures, playgrounds being shut, bans on going to work, travel limits, seven disrupted school terms, vaccination mandates and public housing closures that breached the human rights of Victoria’s most vulnerable.
The consequences of these actions will be felt for years to come. On our economy, on our confidence, on our mental health and on our future.
We want to ensure that such a situation never ever happens again.
We know there’ll be future pandemics – there will likely even be future COVID waves.
But Victorians deserve a common-sense and proportionate response, that protects individual rights, protects our democratic freedoms, and protects our normal way of life.
The Future Pandemic Management Plan will achieve this.
Under the plan, we will ensure that there will be no requirements for vaccine mandates during any future pandemics, except in acute health, disability and aged care settings.
This will be enforced with the introduction of the new Future Pandemic Management Legislation, which we will introduce to Parliament if we are elected on November 26.
We continue to strongly encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and to follow the health advice during any current or future pandemics. However, forcing hard-working Victorians, from tradies or hospitality workers, to choose between their job and getting vaccinated is just not on.
In addition, we will:
- Guarantee no more lockdowns;
- Keep schools open, with our face-to-face learning guarantee;
- Hold a Royal Commission into Victoria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that all relevant Government documents will be made available to it, including Cabinet documents, internal briefings and legal advice;
- Amend the Victorian Constitution Act to limit a State of Emergency or State of Disaster declaration to only 30 days, and if a Government needed to extend these powers for longer, it would be required to secure a 3/5 majority vote in both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council on each occasion;
- Build Australia’s first, dedicated infectious disease response centre;
- Repeal Daniel Andrews’ 2021 pandemic legislation and replace it with more considered laws, which include requirements that:
- No requirements for vaccine mandates during a future pandemic, except in acute health, disability and aged care settings;
- Prevent Victorians from being locked out of their state ever again;
- Enshrines to the right to free speech and democratic freedoms such as the right to protest, even during a pandemic;
- The Victorian Parliament is sovereign and will continue to operate, free from the direction of the Premier, other Ministers or officials otherwise;
- All health advice relating to decision-making around a pandemic response is to be tabled in Parliament, not just a summary of the Minister’s decision;
- Any Member of Parliament would be able to request a briefing from the Premier or appropriate Minister on the circumstances that justified a decision to declare a pandemic, and the briefing must be provided;
- Those impacted by pandemic or state of emergency orders and directives would be able to challenge them in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
These are sensible changes that will ensure any future pandemics are appropriately managed.
We can keep Victorians safe, while also protecting their freedoms and their democratic rights.
That’s exactly what our comprehensive Future Pandemic Management Plan will do.