Australians have made some extraordinary sacrifices over the last month to help slow the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus. At very short notice, federal and state governments have passed emergency legislation that has severely restricted our freedom of movement and association and shut down large sections of the economy.
For the most part Australians have willingly complied with these measures to help tackle the spread of the virus, despite the challenges they have presented. However many of us are deeply concerned, not only at some of the over-the-top measures that have been put in place, but also the uncertainty around how long they are expected to continue.
There are many instances where ill-thought-out restrictions have been legislated that have no meaningful benefit from a public health perspective. Camping in national parks, fishing, even sitting outside on a park bench reading a book have been deemed illegal activities in some jurisdictions, and police have been quick to enforce the rules, handing out heavy fines. We believe that these petty restrictions must be immediately repealed. Australians have demonstrated that they will happily comply with social distancing and other measures, but there is a growing discontent in this country regarding these counter-intuitive restrictions.
More broadly, it is critical that every page of legislation that has been passed in the name of COVID-19 that has resulted in a restriction on our liberties be immediately scrapped the moment this crisis is over. History is full of examples where so-called temporary legislative measures have become permanent, and the Liberal Democrats vow to hold the Federal Government and all state governments to account on this matter. There needs to be an unconditional and immediate repeal of these laws once the crisis is abated.
Over 800,000 Australians have lost their jobs in the space of a few weeks, and the economic turmoil that COVID-19 has wrought is set to continue. It may well prove to be an even bigger crisis than the health crisis. Bold economic reform is desperately needed if Australia hopes to minimise the ongoing economic fallout, and over the coming weeks we will present a comprehensive reform agenda to address these economic challenges.
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