Controversial pandemic laws pass after weeks of debate and protests

Australia’s first tailor-made pandemic laws will soon apply in Victoria, with the state’s upper house having finally pushed through the pandemic bill after weeks of debate and protests.
The vote came down to the wire on Parliament‘s final full sitting day for the year.

The laws passed in the upper house 20 votes to 18 with the support of four crossbenchers.

Daniel Andrews to lift a few restrictions in Victoria
Victoria’s pandemic laws have passed. (Getty, AP)

It has passed after politicians spent much of Tuesday night debating the legislation, with discussions taking a total of 21 hours.

The bill was on Wednesday sent back to the lower house with six suggested amendments, before it returned to the upper house today for the final vote.

The new pandemic laws will come into effect from December 16, with Victoria’s current state of emergency powers set to expire on December 15.

The state will then become the first Australian state or territory to have legislation specifically for the occurrence of a pandemic.

Crowds are filling the streets of Melbourne to protest the pandemic bill.
Crowds filled the streets of Melbourne to protest the pandemic bill. (9News)

The controversial legislation will mean the Chief Health Officer will no longer have the power to declare a pandemic and issue health orders.

The final call will now be made by the Premier and Health Minister.

Earlier today, ex-Labor minister Adem Somyurek took credit for the bill’s amendments, saying, “So if it has been fixed, it’s me that fixed it”.

The pandemic bill has sparked a month of protests in Melbourne CBD and outside State Parliament, with a strong police presence manning the area this week.

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