Dan Andrews' divisive pandemic bill is set to become LAW after marathon parliament debate – giving Victorian premier unprecedented powers

Dan Andrews' controversial pandemic bill set to become law following debateLast-minute changes were made to divisive legislation to secure support of MP One amendment is the creation of a parliamentary committee to review ordersBill gives both the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic 

The Victorian government’s pandemic legislation is set to become law following marathon debate in parliament’s upper house.

Victorian upper house MPs have debated the state government’s pandemic legislation through the night, after some last-minute changes were made to the bill to secure the support of an additional MP.

Members of the Legislative Council continued to debate the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill on Wednesday morning.

Dan Andrews' (pictured) divisive pandemic legislation is set to become law following marathon debate in parliament's upper house through Tuesday night

Dan Andrews’ (pictured) divisive pandemic legislation is set to become law following marathon debate in parliament’s upper house through Tuesday night 

The bill, which gives the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic and enforce restrictions, is set to replace the state of emergency that expires on December 15.

The government has secured the support of crossbenchers Transport Matters MP Rod Barton, Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Greens leader Samantha Ratnam to pass the bill.

It had initially thought the bill would pass last sitting week with the support of Mr Meddick, Ms Patten and Ms Ratnam but needed an additional vote after former Labor minister Adem Somyurek declared he would return from a self-imposed absence to vote against it.

Transport Matters MP Rod Barton (pictured) has a vital crossbench vote in the Victorian Upper House and has persusaded Mr Andrews to make concessions to his proposed bill

Transport Matters MP Rod Barton (pictured) has a vital crossbench vote in the Victorian Upper House and has persusaded Mr Andrews to make concessions to his proposed bill

‘It is 5.03am. There have been a lot of questions on clause 12 so 2 hours later we have got to the first amendment to this clause. 60+ to go,’ Ms Ratnam tweeted on Wednesday.

In exchange for Mr Barton’s support, the government made six amendments to the bill including the creation of a joint parliamentary committee that can review public health orders and recommend they be overruled by a majority of both houses of parliament.

A proposed aggravated offence, under which egregious restriction breaches could have been punishable by up to two years’ jail, was also removed.

Protesters march against the controversial bill in Melbourne on November 9

Protesters march against the controversial bill in Melbourne on November 9

‘This is a far better bill than what we had and we have curbed the powers of this government,’ Mr Barton told reporters outside parliament on Tuesday.

He said with the December 15 deadline fast approaching, a decision had to be made.

‘We had two choices to think about: one, the government reintroduce a state of emergency – and I don’t think that’s palatable for anybody – or we go to a situation where we have no pandemic powers at all,’ Mr Barton said.

‘Just think about the ramifications of what that would be for this state. You can imagine how quickly the borders would be shut to us from other states.’

Several groups who initially held concerns about the bill, including the Centre for Public Integrity, the Human Rights Law Centre, the Law Institute of Victoria and Liberty Victoria have welcomed the amendments.

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