A law change to extend Victoria’s state of emergency has passed the state’s Upper House, paving the way for its passage through Parliament.
- Victoria’s state of emergency has been extended by six months after a marathon sitting of the Upper House of state parliament
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews came under attack in the Upper House as Opposition members accused him of having a “lust for power”
- Mr Andrews will announce Victoria’s plan to move out of stage four restrictions on Sunday
The six-month extension is half the length of the Government’s original proposal, which was doomed to fail in the Upper House, where the Government does not have a majority.
After a marathon late-night sitting through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, the bill passed — without amendments — 20 votes to 19 at 1:56am.
Its success was assured after Greens MP Samantha Ratnam returned to Parliament while on maternity leave to vote in favour of the amendments.
“Obviously, I wasn’t intending to be here this week because I’m still on maternity leave but I felt like this decision that we have before us in the Parliament was just too important for the health and wellbeing of Victorians,” she said.
“The Greens have always backed the public health led response to the pandemic.”
The proposed change also won the backing of Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick and Reason Party MP Fiona Patten.
Both said they had been targeted by aggressive abuse in the lead-up to the vote.
“This is not about a lockdown. This is about ensuring that if someone has COVID, they stay isolated. This is ensuring that if a cafe opens up, they have a clear plan of how to social distance.”
Extending the state of emergency allows legally binding health directives to be issued by the Chief Health Officer after September 13, when the current state of emergency ends.
The extension does not mean existing restrictions will stay in place.
The Government will need to justify continuing the extension each month.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told Parliament that a failure to extend the state of emergency would mean “we would literally fall of a cliff”.
“We will create public health anarchy,” she said.
However, the Opposition criticised the Government’s failure to act sooner and to allow more time for debate and details to be worked out.
“This is driven by the Premier’s lust and love for power,” the Opposition’s David Davis said.
“It’s driven by the Premier’s determination to keep the state closed down.”
Liberal MP Bernie Finn said Mr Andrews “wants to keep mothers from daughters” and “sons from fathers”.
Mr Andrews will announce a plan to move the state out of stage 4 restrictions on Sunday.
The plan will comprise two separate “roadmaps” — one for Melbourne, and another for country Victoria.