Somyurek returns to sink pandemic powers bill
Fresh from giving evidence about the 'red shirts' affair at an IBAC hearing, former Labor minister Adem Somyurek has confirmed he will vote against the Victorian Labor government's proposed pandemic powers extension, which would derail the passage of the controversial legislation.
Legislative Councillor Somyurek will be able to return to parliament after passing the COVID-19 vaccination status threshold to return to the floor.
Debate on the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill is set to resume on Thursday but a final vote may come as late as Friday, with MPs advised parliament could sit an extra day.
The Victorian government was confident the bill would pass after delivering amendments to secure the support of upper house crossbenchers - western Victorian MLC for the Animal Justice Party Andy Meddick, the Greens' Samantha Ratnam, and the Reason Party's Fiona Patten.
Victorian Nationals MP Emma Kealy spoke with Flow about the pandemic powers bill and urged her fellow western Victorian MP, Mr Meddick, to consider his stance on the freedom to protest by trespassing on farms, alongside the freedoms trampled by the bill:
In an opinion piece published in the Herald Sun, Mr Somyurek said he planned to vote against the bill, arguing it gives too much power to Premier Daniel Andrews, lacks independent oversight and "appropriate mechanisms" to scrutinise the new powers:
"I will not support this bill in its current form, and I would encourage the government to go back to the drawing board and consult more broadly."
A no vote by Mr Somyurek would result in a tie, meaning the bill would have to be reintroduced in parliament's lower house.
Ms Patten told ABC Radio National on Thursday morning the bill will likely be defeated since "the numbers aren't there".
"The numbers are very close at the moment. If Mr Somyurek was to appear, the vote would be 19-19 so it would fail."
The former Sex Party MLC speculated that the disgraced MP may have decided to return to parliament "for some payback against his party colleagues".
Victoria's current state of emergency expires on December 15 and cannot be extended.
The bill has become a lightning rod for anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination groups, who have occupied the steps of state parliament this week.
On Monday, they gathered around a wooden gallows chanting "Freedom", "Traitor", "Kill Dan Andrews" and "Hang Dan Andrews", as an inflatable doll depicting the premier was thrown onto the structure.
On Wednesday night, Victoria Police confirmed they had spoken to the driver of the black Toyota LandCruiser which had been towing the gallows.
The 48-year-old man from Badger Creek was issued a warning for traffic offences.