I have written with frustration about the lack of movement of the legal fraternity about the increasing legal totalitarianism of Victoria. But now I am pleased by recent developments as there is growing opposition at the 11th hour.
“An eminent group of retired judges and high-powered Queen’s Counsels has written an open letter calling on the Victorian Parliament to reject legislation that makes it easier to detain people during the coronavirus pandemic. Eighteen legal figures have taken the unusual step of coming together to launch a scathing attack, warning the Andrews Government’s COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020 (Bill) endangered the freedoms of Victorians. “We are deeply concerned by the passage of the … Bill through the Legislative Assembly,” the letter states. “The Bill would also allow any person the Secretary considered appropriate to be authorised to exercise emergency powers. There would be no requirement that persons authorised be police officers, or even public servants. “Authorising citizens to detain their fellow citizens on the basis of a belief that the detained person is unlikely to comply with emergency directions by the “authorised” citizens is unprecedented, excessive and open to abuse. “We call on the Legislative Council to amend the Bill, or to vote against it.” Retired High Court judge Michael McHugh, AC QC, and former Federal Court judges Peter Heerey, AM QC, and Neil Young, QC, headline the list of respected legal figures who have signed the letter. Other QCs who have joined the push are; James Peters, Peter Collinson, Maryanne Loughnan, Mary Anne Hartley, Philip Crutchfield, Georgina Schoff, Philip Solomon, David Batt, Stuart Wood, Felicity Gerry and Michael Borsky. After The Australian broke the story this morning, four more QCs added their names to the letter; Ross Gillies, Jennifer Batrouney, Rachel Doyle and Paul Hayes.