The government announced on Monday evening that it would amend the bill which had drawn strong criticism from lawyers and human rights activists for its overbreadth. However, the amendments did not satisfy civil society opponents or quell the anger of protesters.
Tuesday’s crowd included many ordinary Victorians concerned about vaccination warrants and other pieces of legislation, while their message was co-opted by a small but loud extremist element.
Shadow treasurer David Davis – who addressed protesters outside Parliament last week – would not rule out attending future protests. He said they should remain peaceful, but declined to criticize his colleagues for joining them on Tuesday. “Are we going to say that we cannot protest peacefully and respectfully? I am in favor of democracy.
But a Liberal MP, who spoke anonymously to reflect frankly to his colleagues, said opposition MPs could undermine the perception of the Coalition among ordinary voters by associating with fringe groups.
“Some MPs appear to be playing soccer with some of the ratbags at these protests, but this exposes the reputation and credibility of the Liberals overwhelmingly,” the MP said.
Mr Andrews, whose effigy was placed near the makeshift gallows on Monday night, accused the opposition of “snuggling” against far-right anti-vaccines in a heated parliamentary debate over pandemic legislation.
Andrews said the opposition is seeking to win favor with fringe groups in an effort to win the preferences of voters from minor right-wing parties in next November’s election. Far-right extremists increasingly worried Victoria police, he said.
“There are those who called for exactly these measures just a few weeks ago, and then as soon as the government did, they changed their position.”
Phantom Housing and Planning spokesperson Ryan Smith, who was elevated to number one by Mr Guy, encouraged his colleagues at Tuesday’s village hall meeting to engage with the crowd, according to two MPs who spoke about confidentiality because these meetings are private.
Mr Smith addressed the protest last week and claimed the Prime Minister had “shattered” the state’s children through school closures amid cries of “vaccines don’t work” from the crowd, depending on the audio heard by Age.
Victoria is the only state government in Australia to attempt to create pandemic-specific legislation, and states, including New South Wales, still use emergency laws that contain fewer oversight mechanisms and transparency.
A similar debate was unfolding in New South Wales, where Dominic Perrottet’s liberal government plans to extend the state’s emergency powers until 2023.
Inside the Parliament of Victoria, the debate continued on Tuesday night and is then expected to continue on Thursday and extend through Friday. MPs from both chambers could be brought back to parliament for an additional sitting day to ensure passage of the bill with amendments.
Labor’s last-minute amendments, confirmed late Monday night ahead of Tuesday’s debate, drew mixed reactions from human rights and legal experts who widely viewed the bill as flawed, but always an improvement over the existing framework.
In a rare move, the government declared the bill “urgent” without opposition support Tuesday to start debate after agreeing to last-minute amendments.
Mr Davis called the decision an undemocratic violation of the process, pointing out that only nine bills have been declared urgent since 1996, including four during the pandemic, and only when there was consensus in the upper house.
Attorney General Jaclyn Symes, head of government at the Legislative Council, said there would be real consequences if the bill was not passed and the opposition had entered a “theater” to s’ ensure that she “was seen as opposing the bill every time. conjuncture”.
Speaking in favor of the amended bill on Tuesday night, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said: “We should not let the perfect get in the way of the good” after persistent complaints the proposal had yet to be made. refined thanks to the proposed changes. She goaded Mr Finn into arguing that pandemic powers would protect the “right to life” against COVID-19, in reference to an anti-abortion adage.
The Prime Minister defended the treatment of the bill after the main representative of MPs, Andy Meddick, said the government failed to communicate the positive elements of the bill, opening the door to disinformation and claims by Mr Guy that the bill was proof that the Prime Minister wanted to order another lockdown. .
Ombudsman Deborah Glass speaking on Nine’s Today program, said the bill was still insufficient and required a higher level of independent oversight and review.
The Law Institute of Victoria said the proposed changes addressed their concerns to some extent, but further changes were needed to ensure the bill is “fit for purpose”.
President Tania Wolff has said she wants stronger independent oversight of the exercise of powers in a pandemic – potentially by the ombudsperson – and the rights of external review of detention through the Victoria Civil and Administrative Court.
The Law Institute also believes that no breach of pandemic powers should result in jail time. If those changes cannot be made, Ms Wolff said the bill should include a sunset clause and expire within the next two years.
The Victorian Bar – which has voiced its criticism forcefully – said the government’s proposed changes still contained ineffective parliamentary and independent oversight and review rights.
“The proposed amendments largely deal with low priority issues and not the most fundamental issues of the bill,” incoming Victorian Bar President Róisín Annesley, QC said Tuesday.
The Human Rights Law Center said the amendments would help governments make better decisions and maintain public confidence, but that “the law is still not perfect.”
The Victorian Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission welcomed the amendments and their strengthening of human rights commitments.
Former Supreme Court justice Lex Lasry attacked protesters on Tuesday, calling the display of makeshift nozzles and gallows “obscene”.
“But I think we’re better than that, really… Sure we are?” He said on 3AW.
Victorian Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam, one of the three main MPs involved in amending the bill, lashed out at Liberal MPs supporting anti-government protesters occupying the steps of Parliament.
Dr Ratnam accused them of “aiding and abetting” the violence and of misleading protesters into believing that the state was on the verge of a dictatorship.
She said this was aided by far-right extremists and Trumpian populists who circulated disinformation and stoked fears over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Ratnam said MPs who amplified far-right appeals instead of condemning them were unfit for a position of power.
“Everyone has the right to demonstrate, but no one has the right to threaten violence,” she said.
“If threats and ropes hanging in the streets continue to be legitimized, our community of Victoria is in danger. “
Dr Ratnam said the amendments to the bill did not address some of the Greens’ concerns, but added more transparency and accountability to decision-making in the event of a pandemic.
“The reality is that there are more checks and balances in this bill than in the status quo,” she said.
On Monday evening, Dr Ratnam joined the two other independent members of the upper house on whom the fate of the bill rests in issuing a statement criticizing the “shocks” on the radio for “knowingly, dangerously inciting and stoking unrest angry civilians with lies ”.
In response to the complaint, 3AW host Neil Mitchell said Age he had opposed in his program certain elements of the bill, but had always pleaded against public demonstrations.
“I strongly deny the allegation of crossbench of deliberately lying to promote garbage like this,” he said.
“The gallows, the nooses, the threats and the images of Hitler disgust me. They have no place in debate or protest in Australia.
With Marta Pascual Juanola
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