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Premier defiant on 12-month restrictions

4 weeks ago 22

Premier Daniel Andrews is firing back at his opponents, saying he is “very hopeful” the controversial state of emergency bill will be passed in parliament despite fierce pushback from opposing politicians.

“I can report to you that we’re having very, very productive discussions with the crossbench and I’m very hopeful that we will get an outcome that allows the chief health officer to continue to do his important work, allows all of the team to continue to make decisions based on science and evidence that are proportionate to the challenges we face,” he told reporters on Wednesday morning.

On Monday, Mr Andrews announced his plan to introduce a bill to parliament to extend the state of emergency in Victoria until at least September next year in four-week increments.

The current state of emergency expires on September 13, 2020.

The move would see some harsh restrictions such as density limits in cafes, pubs and restaurants remain during that period.

But the proposal has been met with condemnation from Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien saying “power has gone to (Mr Andrews’) head” and the Victorian Nationals leader calling the move “draconian”.

Reason Party MP Fiona Patten also went on record saying she would not vote for the 12-month extension, instead suggesting a three- or even six-month extension might be possible.

“It’s very important beyond September 13 that, of course, we have the ability to make rules so that we can open up, so that we can make sure businesses survive, make sure that we get people back on their feet and then begin a massive program of jobs and skills and trying to put the strength back into the Victorian economy and into communities that we are so well-known for,” Mr Andrews implored.

“You simply can’t have an opening-up strategy unless you have the ability to make those sorts of rules. Not the stage four hard lockdown rules. We’re working as hard as we can to get past those, to get well and truly beyond those, but the key to opening up is not going from stage four to stage zero, where there are no rules.

“There has to be a framework. And it does cover simple things like risky industries, dangerous industries from a COVID-19 point of view, having compulsory safety plans.”

Victoria recorded 149 new infections on Wednesday and 24 more deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 462.

A woman in her 60s, three men and in their 70s, three women and seven men in their 80s and six women and four men in their 90s died in the past 24 hours.

Twenty one of the 24 deaths were linked to aged care.

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