Premier Daniel Andrews’ proposed pandemic powers bill has hit a roadblock after former Labor Minister Adem Somyurek returned to Parliament and revealed he would block the controversial legislation.
The bill – which would remove the power to declare a pandemic from the Chief Health Officer and hand it to the Premier – hangs in the balance with the Labor Government desperately trying to secure one more vote in the upper house.
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The Opposition has reached out to the Government in a bid to renegotiate the legislation, but Mr Guy said he would not hand Mr Andrews the “power of detention”.
“We’re happy to help when it comes to something to make a better process for the state but we’re not going to hand over a blank cheque to a government that’s already drunk on power,” Mr Guy told Sky News Australia’s Peta Credlin.
The bill has been heavily criticised since the government passed it through the lower house in October, with the Victorian Ombudsman and eminent barristers calling for greater independent scrutiny and the removal of certain powers which will be handed to the Health Minister.
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Mr Guy said while the Opposition was willing to work on improving the existing emergency parameters, it was “not going to go against advice” from the Law Institute, the Bar Association and the Victorian Ombudsman.
“We’re happy to streamline state of emergency powers but we won’t be giving up Victorians’ rights for the sake of a power drunk premier.”
It comes as Victorians prepare for almost all restrictions to be dropped from midnight on Thursday as the state creeps towards a 90 per cent full vaccination rate.
Mr Guy also questioned the need for urgent emergency powers given the state of vaccinations in Victoria and the emerging economic rebuild.
“Why do we need to be in a state of emergency,” he said. “Why isn’t the Parliament today focussed on keeping kids back at school, reopening small business, getting back the major events that we have lost.”
“And rebuilding our shattered international image from being in a state of disaster for the best part of two years.
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“It’s time to focus beyond this pandemic but it appears that the state government in Victoria can’t focus on anything but the pandemic for political reasons.”
Mr Guy confirmed the Premier had not responded to the Opposition’s offer of a compromise around the bill, blasting Mr Andrews for not acting in “good faith”.
“I don’t expect one (a response), only he calls the shot in his little setup,” Mr Guy said.
“He doesn’t want to negotiate with anyone, he just wants to ram through his legislation by cowering one of the other independents in the upper house.
“You can make an offer in good faith but he doesn’t accept good faith offers and that’s the shame for all of us here in Victoria.”
With Mr Somyurek’s return, the Labor Government will need 21 votes for the bill to pass.
The 11 Coalition members of the Legislative Council along with the remaining eight crossbenchers have publicly declared they will oppose the bill.
Former Labor MP Adem Somyurek to block Victorian pandemic bill

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