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Why the police union wants the COVID-19 state of emergency swapped for a state of disaster

Victoria’s police union is calling for a state of disaster to be declared in Victoria instead of the state of emergency which is currently in place for COVID-19.

The union says “clunky” state of emergency legislation is hampering police efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, including their ability to check those in self-quarantine are isolating.

“Public health are actually the authorised officers, so whilst we can act, it slows us down dramatically,” Police Association Victoria Secretary Wayne Gatt told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“Given the scale of this emergency we think we’d be better served under a state of disaster.

“The community would see no difference, but police certainly would.

“It would empower each and every constable out there to walk the Premier’s talk on this, and we want to help in every way we can.”

The calls come as the police union revealed two Victoria Police members have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

A further 200 members are in quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus and Mr Gatt said he “fully expects those numbers to rapidly increase”.

Mr Gatt said the union would support the extension of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton’s contract, which is due to end in July.

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