Government agrees to change proposed pandemic laws

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The Victorian government has agreed to amend its controversial pandemic bill in the hours before a heated debate in Parliament this week.

Fines for breaching public health orders will be halved and the timeframe to release the reasons behind pandemic decisions slashed under the amendments proposed by the Labor government, provided late on Monday night.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Health Minister Martin Foley said the amendments were decided after further consultations.

“The new pandemic laws will provide a clear framework for managing pandemics such as COVID-19,” Mr Foley said in a statement.

“We have engaged extensively with some of the most trusted leaders in public health, human rights and law and policy making – and the amendments reflect that consultation.”

Under the amended bill, the premier of the day will need to be satisfied on reasonable grounds that declaring a pandemic is necessary before giving the order. Prior versions of the law omitted the need to have reasonable grounds to pull the trigger on the declaration.

The government would also need to publish public health advice underpinning measures such as lockdowns sooner than two weeks after the decision is made, down to seven days.

More to come

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