VICTORIA’S state of emergency will continue for nine months after the Greens confirmed they had struck a deal with the Andrews Government on Tuesday this week.
The Greens said they had secured a reduction in COVID fines for young people, a commitment to review fines in disadvantaged communities, an appeal process for detention orders and a confirmation of the right to protest.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam had called for the changes during negotiations with the government.
Labor needed the support of three crossbenchers for the bill to pass the upper house.
Torquay-based Animal Justice MP Andy Meddick and Reason Party MP Fiona Patten also indicated on Tuesday that they would back the bill.
An agreement had to be struck by the end of the sitting week today (Thursday, March 4), as the state of emergency is due to expire on March 15.
“While COVID is still a risk in the community we must continue to keep people safe, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of people’s democratic rights and rights to social justice,” she said.
“That’s why the Greens will support a nine-month extension to the state of emergency, on the proviso that we work on new laws that mean this is the last time the state of emergency is used for COVID in Victoria.
“(It’s also) on the condition that the government reduces fines for young people and implements important recommendations from the Ombudsman’s inquiry into the public housing lockdown.”
Opposition leader in the upper house David Davis has described the amendments as a “sell out by the minor parties”.
“It leaves intact the extraordinary power of Daniel Andrews until Christmas,” he told AAP.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out slowly, with less than a third of the supplied doses being administered in the first week.
But Jane Holton from the national COVID-19 commission is unfazed by the slow vaccination rate across the nation.
While NSW used 74 per cent of its allocated vaccines in the first week and Tasmania was at 100 per cent, Victoria was only running at 30 per cent. Queensland similarly had used only 22 per cent of its vaccines.
“(Victoria, NSW and Queensland) all indicated they were going to take it slow and steady to begin with,” Ms Holton told 3AW.
“I do think slow and steady at the beginning is wise. Everyone is learning how to do this. We’ve never done this before.
“So I’m not at all worried by the numbers in this early stage. Obviously we’re looking to see those numbers ramp up this week and into the following week.”