News State Victoria News Victorian govt secures backing to extend state of emergency

Victorian govt secures backing to extend state of emergency

state of emergency victoria
Melbourne's sixth lockdown has been extended, amid growing fears about virus cases emerging in the city's west. Photo: AAP
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

The Victorian government has secured the support of three crossbenchers to extend its current state of emergency by six months.

Victorian Greens upper house MP Samantha Ratnam will return from maternity leave to vote in favour of an amended bill on Tuesday.

The Andrews government originally sought a 12-month extension to its state of emergency powers to allow for the enforcement of public health orders such as mandatory mask use, self-isolation for positive cases and business density limits.

At present, the declaration can run for only six months and is due to expire on September 13, along with Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown and regional Victoria’s Stage 3 rules.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos confirmed the amended bill sought a six-month extension, specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes additional transparency measures.

“There has never been a more important bill before the Victorian Parliament than this,” Ms Mikakos said.

Ms Ratnam said she wasn’t intending to attend parliament but wanted to vote on the “really important piece of legislation”.

The government now has the support it needs to pass the bill in the upper house, though it is expected debate will run for hours.

Earlier on Tuesday, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick backed the extension, despite receiving a torrent of abuse.

Ms Patten said her office had been inundated with “vile, vicious and aggressive” phone calls, social media messages and emails opposing the proposal.

“Some of them, we’ve referred to the police,” the Reason Party MP said.

“This isn’t how we do politics in Australia I have never experienced this type of aggression against me in such a personal, sometimes sexual way.”

Ms Patten said she has received countless messages like this. Photo: Supplied

Ms Patten said the majority of people who had contacted her misunderstood the bill.

“This is not about a lockdown. This is about ensuring that if someone has COVID, they stay isolated,” she said.

Ms Patten blamed the abuse on various conspiracy groups, including those behind illegal rallies that have sprung up in Melbourne in the past few days.

Mr Meddick said he and his family had also received “disgusting” abuse on social media.

He said it was vital to provide frontline workers and the community with certainty as the state moved out of lockdown.

“Now is not the time for party politics. Now is the time for co-operation,” Mr Meddick said.

It comes as Victoria confirmed 70 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and five more deaths, taking the state’s toll from the virus to 570 and the national figure to 677.

Tuesday’s daily case tally of 70 is the lowest since July 3.

Metropolitan Melbourne remains under strict Stage 4 restrictions, including an 8pm to 5am curfew and a ban on travelling further than five kilometres from home.

Regional Victoria is under slightly less strict Stage 3 restrictions.

Mr Andrews said on Tuesday he would reveal two plans for the state post-lockdown – one for the city, and one for country areas.