Today’s question returns to the COVID 19 response in Victoria and today’s correspondent has
… heard via the media, that police have new powers further the State of Disaster declaration In Victoria to enter private property without a warrant.
I find nowhere in the Act that provides for such and ask for your opinion out of sheer curiosity.
Frankly I find it very hard to believe that is the case.
Looking forward to reading your comment on the matter
I was referreed to an article in ‘The Age’ Sherryn Groch ‘Victoria is in a state of disaster. What does that mean and what are the rules now? (August 5, 2020). That article says:
But a state of disaster goes beyond health; it is usually intended for crises wrought by nature or by malicious attackers. It allows the state’s Emergency Minister (in this case, Lisa Neville) to direct government agencies and allocate resources as well as controlling movement within the disaster area when a threat is deemed to pose “a significant and widespread danger to life or property”. Police can be deemed “authorised officers”, Neville has said, able to enter private property when they believe rules are being breached.
I cannot see that this is correct. The term ‘authorised officer’ does not appear in either of the Emergency Management Acts of 1986 and 2013 (Vic) nor is there any specific power to enter premises in those Acts. The term ‘authorised officer’ does appear in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) as does the power to enter premises, sometimes without warrant (ss 168-170).
The declaration of the state of disaster issued on 2 August can be found in the Victorian Government Gazette; but I cannot find any directions or orders made pursuant to that declaration. The Victorian COVID page only provides information on ‘Directions issued by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer’ under the state of emergency under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act. Emergency Management Victoria refers people to the DHHS website.
In short I cannot see what the article is referring to or that ‘the State of Disaster declaration In Victoria [allows police] to enter private property without a warrant’. Those powers do exist, but they are in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.