A petition to repeal the Victorian government’s proposed Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 has garnered over 56,000 signatures as of Nov. 4.
The petition, which Rebel News launched, alleges that the New Section 8A of the Bill (pdf) will give Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews the same unlimited power as that provided to the Nazi dictatorship.
According to the Bill, the premier will have the power to declare a pandemic, extend the ban indefinitely, and exercise any emergency powers he deems “reasonably necessary,” including closing the domestic borders, introducing health restrictions, and allowing police to enter private premises without a warrant. Victorian residents will also face prison time or hefty fines of up to AU$90,000 (US$67,570) if deemed failing to follow government-mandated health orders and pose a risk to the health of others.
“Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution empowered one man to pass Emergency Decrees leading to the Nazi dictatorship,” the petition said.
“Under the decree issued on the basis of Article 48, Hitler was given authority to curtail constitutional rights including habeas corpus, free expression of opinion, freedom of the press, rights of assembly and the privacy of communications.
“For 80 years, we in the West have repeatedly declared ‘never again’—‘again’ has arrived, and this is the moment of truth.
“New Section 8A of Daniel Andrews’ Bill is our Article 48. It affords Andrews the same tyrannical powers that went unchecked in 1933.”
“Everyone knows that the government is introducing new legislation to get more power. But who would trust the government with more power?” protest attendee and Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick said, reported Rebel News.
“We must respect the rights of Victorians. If this Bill passes, they will have a permanent emergency in the hands of the premier. We cannot let this Bill pass.”
The Bill has already passed the state’s lower house on Oct. 28. Once passed in the upper house, which is expected to happen between Nov. 16 – 19, at that point, the only way to stop the Bill would be for the Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau, to not give her consent to the new legislation.
The primary constitutional responsibilities of Governors of Australian states include calling elections, presiding over the Executive Council, giving Royal Assent to bills passed by upper and lower houses, dissolving the Legislative Assembly in exceptional circumstances, and appointing and dismissing Ministers.
The petition calls on the Victorian Governor to withhold her consent to the Bill and warn Premier Andrews of the consequences of his proposed course.
“Though it is unprecedented, we turn to the Governor now and ask that the Honourable Linda Dessau AC act according to Australia’s core principles of government and democracy,” the petition wrote.
The petition from Rebel News comes after the peak legal body, the Victorian Bar, has issued an open letter calling the new Bill as a “gross representation,” saying that the Bar was never provided with a draft Bill.
“The overriding concern is that the Bill confers on the Health Minister what is, in a practical sense, an effectively unlimited power to rule the state by decree, for an effectively indefinite period, and without effective judicial or parliamentary oversight,” the lawyers argued.
As of 5:00 p.m. on Nov.4, 56,693 people had signed the petition.