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Dan Andrews’ pandemic power grab suffers another setback as key vote is delayed

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Dan Andrews’ pandemic power grab suffers ANOTHER setback – after disgraced former minister vowed to block the divisive bill










Victoria’s pandemic legislation could be amended to ensure more oversight, in an effort to secure the support of another crossbench MP.

But it is unlikely the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill will be debated on Friday, with the government considering calling an extra sitting day next week to ensure it passes before the current state of emergency expires.

The bill gives the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic and the ability to enforce restrictions such as lockdowns, mask-wearing and vaccination mandates.

Daniel Andrews' Victorian pandemic legislation could be amended to ensure more oversight, in an effort to secure the support of another crossbench MP

Daniel Andrews’ Victorian pandemic legislation could be amended to ensure more oversight, in an effort to secure the support of another crossbench MP

It was expected to pass parliament with the support of three crossbench MPs this week.

But former Labor minister Adem Somyurek declared he would return to parliament following a self-imposed absence to vote against the bill in its current form.

His vote would result in a tie, meaning the bill would have to be reintroduced in parliament’s lower house.

Without the legislation, the government will not be able to impose many of its COVID-19 restrictions after the state of emergency expires on December 15.

Sustainable Australia MP Clifford Hayes has been negotiating with the government and says they have been ‘receptive’ to his calls for tougher oversight powers.

‘I’ve made clear the issues that I want to see addressed to the bill,’ he told reporters outside parliament on Friday.

The bill gives the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic and the ability to enforce restrictions such as lockdowns, mask-wearing and vaccination mandates, and has sparked daily protests

The bill gives the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic and the ability to enforce restrictions such as lockdowns, mask-wearing and vaccination mandates, and has sparked daily protests

‘I’m going to be quite firm about that because important civil rights are involved and we’ve got to make sure we protect those essentials of democracy,’ he said.

Mr Hayes has called for a non-government led parliamentary committee to oversee the exercise of the pandemic orders and for both houses of parliament to be given the power to overturn them.

‘I think that’s definitely on the table,’ he said.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said negotiations with the crossbench have been ‘productive’.

She said Mr Hayes understood there was a need for pandemic laws ahead of December 15.

‘He suggested some amendments, I think that there’s room to move on what he has suggested,’ Ms Symes said.

‘What is fair to say is that everyone knows that from the 15th of December we are left without a framework. That is an unacceptable situation.’

Former Labor minister Adem Somyurek declared he would return to parliament following a self-imposed absence to vote against the bill in its current form

Former Labor minister Adem Somyurek declared he would return to parliament following a self-imposed absence to vote against the bill in its current form

Independent MP Catherine Cumming said she would vote in favour of the bill if the government scrapped vaccine mandates.

Asked if this was something the government would consider, Ms Symes replied a definitive ‘no’.

Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said the legislation must pass or Victoria could become the ‘only jurisdiction in the world without regulations to help us control this pandemic’.

‘At this stage, I’m actually very positive about this process,’ she told reporters on Friday.

‘We worked very hard to get this legislation to the point it is. There’s numerous amendments that we negotiated.

‘Now, if some of the other sensible MPs negotiate even more amendments to make the legislation better, then I think that will be a great outcome.’

Several other crossbenchers – including the Liberal Democrats, Justice Party MPs and Jeff Bourman from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers – are firmly opposed to the bill.

‘They have to more or less rewrite the bill,’ Mr Bourman said.

Mr Somyurek has only been at parliament twice since he was forced out of the Labor party in June 2020 for leading a branch-stacking operation.

He has said the proposed laws give too much power to the state government and its leader and lack independent oversight and scrutiny.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

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