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Victoria’s state-of-emergency powers extended for six months

She also denied suggestions the bill would give additional powers to the Chief Health Officer or the government.

“This is the most important bill … in the 21 years I have been in the Victorian Parliament. We have an ongoing public health emergency,” she said.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was heckled throughout her speech.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was heckled throughout her speech.Credit:James Ross

“The case numbers are trending down but we know there is still some way to go.

“This is about extending the time to exercise the current powers under the Health and Wellbeing Act.

“This pandemic will not be finished in two weeks’ time, it won’t in fact be finished in six months, this will be going into 2021 because we know in all likelihood there will be no vaccine …. within that six-month period.”

Others were scathing of her response, questioning the Health Minister on what would happen if a vaccine never became available.

Reason Party MP Fiona Patten also raised concerns over the unprecedented level of “viciousness and aggression” her office had seen in correspondence from the public during what she said was an extraordinary couple of weeks.

“This is not our last pandemic,” Ms Patten said.

The result came as Greens leader Samantha Ratnam made an unexpected return to Parliament from maternity leave to cast her vote in the upper house in favour of the government’s bill.

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The Green’s vote gave Labor the numbers it required to overcome resistance from the Coalition and most of the crossbench and pass the legislation with the support of two other crossbenchers.

The compromise deal, brokered by Ms Patten, grants a one-off extension for six months, not the permanent 12-month legislative change the government had initially sought.

In return, Ms Mikakos agreed to provide Parliament with the Chief Health Officer’s advice each time the government renews its state of emergency.

It drew criticism from Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien who accused the Greens and Labor of working together to prolong the lockdown.

The next step of the process, passing the bill in the lower house where Labor commands a large majority, is due later in the week.

The state recorded 70 new coronavirus cases and five deaths on Tuesday, and 570 Victorians have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

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