Dozens of Victorian ministers have endured a long night and a long morning as debate continues over the Andrews government’s pandemic bill, which is expected to be passed late Wednesday afternoon.
Victorian-era Upper House ministers debated for more than half a day in Parliament over amendments to the Andrews government’s pandemic bill.
Although the government found last-minute support from Transport Matters MP Rodney Barton on Tuesday, a final vote is not expected for at least a few hours, as fierce discussions continued on the 58 clauses.
The debate began at 3 p.m. Tuesday with ministers only until Rule 12 from 58 to 6.30 a.m. Wednesday.
A vote to sit past midnight was convincingly won despite opposition from opposition leader in the upper house, David Davis.
Mr Davis, along with his colleague Georgie Crozier, Independent MP Catherine Cumming and Liberal Democrat David Limbrick dominated the discussions overnight.
Understandably, ministers got frustrated and tired with a spotty stretch and another quickly changing wardrobes to freshen up.
Spirits rose among the deputies as they called to each other in the room.
“Can we have a little decorum? I know it’s going to be, now I can’t say very late, I say very early,” said Opposition MP Wendy Lovell, Vice-Chair of the Legislative Council at around 5:45 a.m.
The opposition tried to delay the bill but failed.
The bill is expected to pass with the support of four interbank MPs – Mr. Barton, Reason Party Fiona Patten, Animal Justice MP Andy Meddick and Greens leader Samantha Ratnam – before it returns to the lower house as a formality where Labor holds the majority.
There were concerns earlier this month that the bill might not pass after former Labor broker Adem Somyurek voted against the legislation, causing a deadlock.
Mr Barton offered his support, but only if six amendments were made to “limit the powers” of Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.
The new changes are:
- Establish a new joint committee, the Pandemic Declaration Accountability and Oversight Committee (PDAOC), which would be chaired by a non-government MP and have a majority of non-government members, to make health recommendations
- The health directives could be rejected on the advice of the PDAOC if they were supported by a majority joint session of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council ”
- Specified pandemic legislation should be independently reviewed by health and legal experts, starting 18 months after the laws come into force and reporting after two years
- Detention Appeal Board issues binding decisions within 72 hours of an appeal request, after seeking advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health
- Clarifies that complaints about detention orders may be investigated by the Ombudsman. Parliament or a committee can also refer the matter to the Ombudsman
- Aggravated offenses have been deleted from the bill. Violations of the bill can no longer result in jail time, however, fines for non-compliance can still result in a fine of $ 10,904
Mr Barton has received death threats as a result of his backflip, but is adamant he is “comfortable” with the changes to the bill.
“I am comfortable with what we are putting in place,” he said.
“It’s a very different beast than what we had before and we can’t compare where Bill started, you can’t compare it to a state of emergency.”
He said his relationship with the Andrews government was “freezing” but he did “the right thing”.
Opposition Matthew Guy described the changes as “Mikey Mouse’s amendments”.
“We were there to work with them. Our phone never rang. They never bothered to call, which meant they wanted to be in politics from the start,” he said. declared.
Mr Andrews accused his opposition of being “too busy standing outside the building (parliament) with extremists (protesters) on Tuesday.
It is hoped the new deal could allay public anger over the pandemic bill that has seen tens of thousands of protesters gather every weekend to demonstrate against the legislation.