All three Greens MPs and the ‘independent’ Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed today voted with the Andrews Labor Government to pass the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (State of Emergency Extension) Bill 2021 through the Legislative Assembly.
The Bill now proceeds to the Legislative Council for further debate in two weeks’ time.
This Bill seeks to hand Premier Daniel Andrews the power to keep Victorians under a State of Emergency right throughout 2021.
The Victorian Liberal Nationals opposed the Bill because there is no reason why a State of Emergency is required to effectively manage COVID-19, as New South Wales has demonstrated.
The Victorian Liberal Nationals proposed amendments to the Bill, including:
- Limit any State of Emergency extension to one month and only with the agreement of both houses of Parliament;
- Preserve the right of Parliament to sit, even during a State of Emergency; and
- Require the immediate tabling of briefings provided to the Chief Health Officer supporting each individual direction made under the State of Emergency powers.
However, Labor, the Greens and the ‘independent’ MP for Shepparton voted for Daniel Andrews’ blank cheque extension to State of Emergency powers throughout 2021.
Having exercised State of Emergency powers over Victorians since March 2020, keeping our state under this level of control through to December 2021 is an absurd overreach.
All Liberal Nationals MP opposed the Bill in the Legislative Assembly.
The Labor Government has rejected the offer made by Leader of the Opposition Michael O’Brien to develop COVID-19 specific legislation, such as for hotel quarantine, that would avoid the need for Victoria to remain under a permanent State of Emergency.
The Liberal Nationals will now work to gain the support of minor parties and independents in the Legislative Council to defeat this Bill or otherwise to amend it in order to protect the rights of Victorians.
Comment attributable to Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien
“Daniel Andrews does not need, and he certainly doesn’t deserve, a blank cheque to keep Victoria in a State of Emergency for the rest of 2021.
“It is absolutely unwarranted and a bridge too far.
“New South Wales has shown that you can effectively manage COVID-19 and run proper hotel quarantine without the need for a State of Emergency.
“I call on the cross-benchers in the Legislative Council to join with the Liberal Nationals to stop Labor’s attempt to keep Victorians in a State of Emergency throughout this year”.