THE Public Health Emergency Bill (PHEB) 2021 is still under the scrutiny of the Bills and Legislation Committee but it seems a lot of work needs to be done to improve its current form.
Chairman of BLC and Leader of the Opposition Mathew Wale made this comments when the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology appeared before the committee yesterday.
Wale said the Committee started last week with the COVID-19 Oversight Committee.
Yesterday the Ministry for Health and Medical Services appeared before the Committee but Wale said they are struggling which he termed it as ‘good struggle’.
“We are struggling on the one hand ‘basic individual rights, rights to freedom of expression, speech, to assembly and to movement.
“And then on the other hand the government needs to be respond adequately, robustly but proportionately which requires the balance,” Wale said.
He further stressed that when we look at the bill say for example the powers they give to an authorised officer, it is certainly not a little power because he/she wants to impose this powers on anyone there won’t be any objection.
“So there’s a lot of powers given for a pre-emptive strike and the purpose of the Committee is to deal with the matter before it becomes a problem,” Wale said.
While its understood Wale said it isn’t justified to give such powers to deal with the matters that perhaps on the scale of it does not require the application of those powers.
And so on the scheme of powers and the ways they are distributed Wale said, it reflects this big powers that the parliament is being asked to give.
It was also understood that there are other examples highlighted yesterday which will come to light.
It was obvious that the government policy document on this bill needs to be improved and politics should stay out from this bill that was meant for protecting the lives of all the citizens of this country.
The Bills and Legislation Committee will continue today with its hearing.
By ANDREW FANASIA