Legislation extending Victoria’s state of emergency powers passed in the Upper House overnight, clearing a pathway for the Victorian Government to crack on with its pandemic response measures for another six months.
Long story short, it looks like Premier Daniel Andrews & Co. will continue to issue stay-at-home orders and enforce mask-wearing – if the Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton backs those measures, that is.
The Age reports the bill passed in the wee hours on Wednesday morning after a seemingly endless debate, with 20 MPs voting for it, and 19 against.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam made the surprise decision to return from maternity leave to side with Labor, helping to nudge the bill over the line.
Here’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos thanking crossbenchers for backing the move:
Thankyou to all Government MPs & to @AndyMeddickMP @FionaPattenMLC & @SamanthaRatnam who put public health above politics & voted to allow a declaration of a State of Emergency to continue for another 6 months if necessary to protect Victorians from #COVID19 #springst
— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) September 1, 2020
The bill was so fiercely contested because state of emergency powers are a huge bloody deal.
They allow the Government, at the advice of the Chief Health Officer, to enforce extraordinary responses to the state’s coronavirus outbreak.
Unlike other states, Victoria’s state of emergency was slated to end on September 13.
The Government originally wanted a further 12 months, but that wasn’t gonna fly, especially with an Opposition so opposed to Andrews’ handling of the situation.
This doesn’t mean that Victoria’s coronavirus crackdown will continue for another six months, mind you, just that the option is there.
The ABC reports the Government will also have to prove the extension is necessary each month.
The next step is for the bill to pass through the Lower House, where Labor commands a hefty majority. Expect that in the next few days.Image: Darrian Traynor / Getty Images