The Victorian government’s controversial pandemic bill has hit rocky roads, after former Labor minister Adem Somyurek announced he would vote against the legislation in its current form.
The permanent powers legislation was set to narrowly pass parliament this week with the support of three key crossbenchers.
However, the announcement of a return by former Labor minister Adem Somyurek to oppose the bill yesterday has thrown this all into limbo.
Somyurek, who was forced out of the Labor party over a branch stacking scandal, said he would not vote in favour the bill after proving his vaccination status for eligibility yesterday.
Because of this move, it was revealed Andrews would no longer have the numbers to get the legislation passed.
As a result, the Premier suddenly changed his mind on ‘urgently’ voting on the bill today.
Instead of moving forward, a Victorian government motion to POSTPONE the vote for more discussions passed 20 votes to 17 in the upper house, biding time for Andrews.
The pandemic bill is expected to remain a heated topic for the next fortnight, while delicate negotiations to pull a crossbench MP onside continue.
In a widely shared piece by the Herald Sun, Somyurek wrote the bill could lead to a “tyranny to rule by decree” and did not have enough checks and balances to keep the leader of the day accountable.
“Had I continued to be a member of the Andrews cabinet, I would have argued this bill is a bad idea because it gives too much power to the government,” he wrote.
“Without meaningful parliamentary oversight and independent review mechanisms as Victorians we all risk the prospect of being unjustly governed by a Coalition despot in the future.
I will not support this bill in its current form, and I would encourage the government to go back to the drawing board and consult more broadly.”
Upper house opposition leader David Davis said he “expected today we would be debating the pandemic legislation” and encouraged proposed amendments to the bill to be circulated as a result of this motion.
WHAT HAPPENS FROM HERE
The Victorian government hoped to pass the bill this week, but said it will still enter into critical further negotiations if an agreement is made before the emergency powers end on December 15th.
The next sitting days for Parliament (and also the last for the year) are November 30th, December 1st and December 2nd. After this, Parliament won’t meet again until February 2022.
This means Dan Andrews has approximately 12 days to convince one of the crossbenchers voting against the bill to change their mind and side with the government.
Failing that, he will need to get parliamentary approval to extend the State of Emergency (SOE) at any time, needing a majority to pass. This would be difficult, given the circumstances at present.
The current SOE expires on December 15th. Failing to pass the Pandemic Bill and a SOE extension by this date would mean all directives, including vaccine mandates, will expire.
Thus, for all of this to go away, here is what needs to happen:
- No support for the government by December 2nd — bill stalled, keeping powers as is.
- No support for extensions of SOE on December 15th — ending said powers.
Now, the bill could theoretically come back at any time with a successful extension of the SOE, but IF these two dominoes can fall in the same place, the deeper plan will NOT have succeeded.
Given that restrictions will be eased for the Christmas period yet again, it will be hard for more ‘cases’ to mysteriously pop up out of nowhere and be used as justification for an extension.
It will be a very interesting few weeks ahead for Victoria.
TOTT News first brought attention to plans of this power grab in June of this year, when secret meetings were being held to discuss how to enshrine control of pandemics solely with cabinet.
Since then, protesters have begun camping out for multiple nights in a row at Parliament.
PROTESTERS CAMP OUT
For four consecutive days and nights, a few hundred protesters have gathered outside of parliament to protest the government’s proposed pandemic laws.
Beginning Monday, the group have staged an #OccupySpringSt ‘sit in’ as the heated debate over the bill continues:
Scenes in Melbourne show dance and music through the night, as well as creative writing displayed across the building to show messages against the legislation and Dan Andrews himself:
TOTT News will continue to follow all developments over the next fortnight.
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