Andrews government meets MPs to impose ‘extremist’ pandemic forces
The Andrews government met with MPs in an 11-hour attempt to force its controversial pandemic powers bill.
The Andrews government’s pandemic powers bill remains deadlocked after a meeting with House members on Friday, but the shadow attorney general urged lawmakers to “do the right thing” and block “extremist laws”.
In a meeting with several senators, government officials sought to negotiate a compromise with only days left for Parliament to rise for the rest of the year.
One of the bill’s most contentious points was the detention powers granted to the health minister for those likely to violate pandemic orders.
The meeting between MPs and the government did not include any minister, but it did include a major concession on arrest powers, according to Herald Sun.
The government has reportedly acknowledged possible improvements to legislation that would see detention orders reviewed by an independent body.
Despite the meeting, no solution was found to the current deadlocked bill.
The legislation, passed by the House of Representatives in October, would revoke the authority to declare a pandemic from the chief health official and give it to the prime minister who can then extend the state of emergency in three-month blocks.
The bill appears to have been passed last week after the government announced amendments to the legislation to secure the votes of three members of the House of Representatives – Dr Samantha Ratnam of the Greens, Fiona Patten of the Reason Party and Representative Andy Medic of the Animal Justice Party.
But the Andrews government delayed the discussion and began renegotiating after former cabinet minister Adam Somorek returned to Parliament and announced he would veto the bill.
After Mr Somyurek’s return, the 11 coalition MPs along with the eight remaining members announced that they would not support the bill in its current state – leaving the government below the required 21.
Victoria’s shadow attorney general, Matt Bach, urged his colleagues in the Senate to “stay strong” and block the bill.
“My message to my fellow Senate members is clear: stay strong, and do what’s right,” Bach told SkyNews.com.au.
“Labour’s pandemic lockdown laws are an affront to our democracy, and will fundamentally jeopardize Victoria’s recovery.
“We must all as members of Parliament, first and foremost, represent our constituents. They demand the defeat of these extremist laws.”
The Andrews government has until December 2 to pass the bill, before the current emergency provisions expire on December 15.
SkyNews.com.au has contacted the attorney general and head of government in the legislature Jacqueline Sims for comment.