Urgent clarification needed on confusing directions

06 April 2020

The Victorian Government needs to urgently clear up confusion around its ‘stay at home’ directions.

The call for clarity comes after Member for Euroa and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan said she had fielded hundreds queries from people worried about grey areas in the law.

“Last week the Victorian Government put restrictions in place preventing couples who live apart from seeing one another. That created enormous stress for people and it was contradicted the decisions made by the National Cabinet,” Ms Ryan said.

“After 48 hours of confusion, during which time the Premier and the Police Minister both insisted the rules were clear and people could not see their partner if they did not live together, the chief health officer finally admitted it was an error that would be corrected.”

Ms Ryan said there was also confusion over whether people can fish or camp if they had access to river frontage on their own property.

“The legal directions signed by the government don’t give answers on many of these issues and in some cases, are contradicted by the government’s own advice on department websites.

“At other times, the directives are just at odds. For example, you can go and play a game of tennis, as long as only one court is in use, but you can’t play a round of golf by yourself.

“Now we have parents who are worried they will be slapped with hefty fines if they take their 16-year-old for a driving lesson in an enclosed car.

“The Premier has told people to ‘stop looking for loopholes’, but most people I’ve spoken to just want to do the right thing. They are not looking for loopholes, they want to know where they stand under the law.

“People are generally accepting of the fact that the government is in uncharted territory, but doing the right thing is made more difficult when you don’t know what the rules are.”

Ms Ryan said she was concerned the Premier had scrapped the accountability mechanisms fundamental to western democracies, which meant there was little scrutiny on the government during a time in which it was wielding unprecedented power.

“The government has prorogued the Parliament which is responsible for scrutinising the decisions of executive government and now the Premier has decreed that decisions will be made by just a handful of people instead of the full Cabinet,” Ms Ryan said.

“We all know that these are difficult times, but these decisions set a very dangerous precedent.”

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