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MELBOURNE, Victoria (ChurchMilitant.com) - A tyrannical China-virus bill has passed into law in the Australian state of Victoria.
Both houses of Victoria's Parliament voted Thursday to approve a controversial "pandemic management" bill granting massive powers to fake Catholic premier Dan Andrews in the name of so-called public health.
"Under this new bill ... checks and balances are absent," explained legal expert Paul Hayes, who bears the prestigious title of queen's counsel. "So it effectively gives the premier and the minister of health pretty much unbridled power to do as they wish once the premier declares a 'pandemic.'"
Andrews' Labour Party controls the Lower House of Parliament, which guaranteed the bill's passage to the Upper House. There, four "crossbenchers" (independents) voted with Andrews to pass the bill in a vote of 20–18.
Some crossbenchers brokered under-the-table deals with Labour, promising their support for Andrews' bill in exchange for Labour's backing on fringe policies. Green Party MPs ensured climate change and pollution legislation would receive Labour's blessing. The so-called Reason Party's 30 pieces of silver are far more telling: decriminalizing prostitution and banning the "Our Father" from Parliament.
The bill has been the subject of significant debate — both inside and outside Parliament House. For several weeks, Australians have gathered en masse in Victoria's capital of Melbourne to protest Andrews' brutal lockdowns, vax mandates and mask mandates. Chants of "Kill the bill" and "Sack Dan Andrews" have broken out frequently, among more profane expressions of displeasure.
Despite the fact that over 500,000 Victorians showed up for the "freedom rally" on a single Saturday last month, Andrews derided the protestors as a "small, ugly mob."
Think tanks, policy groups and legal societies — notably the Centre for Public Integrity, the Human Rights Law Centre, the Law Institute of Victoria, Liberty Victoria and the Victorian Bar — have been critical of the bill, though many have relaxed their complaints after amendments were announced Wednesday.
Within the halls of Parliament, debate raged for 21 straight hours in the Upper House, starting Tuesday and concluding the following morning. Over 80 amendments were considered, debated and voted on individually. Only six of them were adopted.
One of those amendments cuts in half the maximum for punitive fines and rules out several of Andrews' proposed imprisonment terms. Another requires the premier to publicly release the health advice behind any new measures within a week of announcing the measure, instead of the original two weeks.
Critics have zeroed in on one amendment as especially worrying. According to it, the premier will need "reasonable grounds" before he can declare a pandemic. Many have pointed to the arbitrary and ambiguous nature of the term "reasonable," with citizens fearing Andrews' definition of "reasonable" may not coincide with theirs.
Hayes and 60 other prominent barristers shared concerns over the bill's draconian terms. Hayes especially stressed the absence of the judicial system: civilian breaches of "public health" orders are to be reviewed by Labour-appointed lawyers, not judges or magistrates. Furthermore, Andrews' original language permits him to declare citizens a threat to public health on the basis of race, gender or religious affiliation.
The premier's "pandemic management" orders will also effectively be exempt from Parliament's oversight. Ordinarily, either house of Parliament can challenge and block an executive order from the premier. But the pandemic management bill will require an absolute majority in both houses to undo any of Andrews' mandates — only after a cross-parliamentary review committee recommends challenging an order.
With Andrews and Labour controlling the Lower House and maintaining a majority in the Upper House, it's unlikely any of Andrews' decrees would be struck down.
Pending royal assent from the governor, the new laws go into effect Dec. 16, the day after the government's current state of emergency powers expire.