Adem Somyurek has declared he “can not be bought out” as the Andrews government struggles to save its law on pandemic powers.
Former Labor minister Adem Somyurek remains defiant in his opposition to the controversial law on pandemic powers after the Andrews government successfully delayed a vote in the upper house.
The Labor government on Thursday put forward a proposal to delay the debate to give Prime Minister Daniel Andrews more time to select only one more cross-bencher, after Mr Somyurek revealed he would block the legislation.
As the Andrews government is now struggling to negotiate an extra vote before parliament reconvenes in two weeks, Mr Somyurek said he could not be “bought off”.
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“I’m probably the only MP in this place who can not be bought by,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I do not want to line up again so no one can buy me off.”
Sir. Somyurek, who successfully applied to have his suspension lifted on Wednesday after being barred from failing to disclose his vaccination status, told the Herald Sun that he intended to block the passage of the bill.
His decision left the government one vote short in the Legislative Council, having previously secured three lone crossbenchers from the Greens, the Animal Justice Party and the Reason Party.
Somyurek said on Wednesday that the powers would give too much authority to what was basically an elected dictatorship.
“The pandemic bill gives too much power to the government and risks our state being unfairly ruled by a despot,” said the former Labor power broker.
Sir. Somyurek was fired from the government last year and removed from the ALP after allegations that he was involved in widespread stacking of factional branches that emerged during a 60-minute investigation.
His return to parliament came a day after the prime minister agreed on seven amendments with the three crossbenchers.
The changes included halving the maximum financial sanction, removing the reference to the Gender Equality Act and ordering public health advice to be issued more quickly.
While the coalition – with 11 votes in the upper house – and the remaining nine crossbenchers – including Mr Somyurek – have declared their opposition to the bill, Liberal leader Matthew Guy left the door open for debate.
Guy has confirmed that the opposition will work with the Andrews government to streamline emergency powers, but will not give the “powerful” prime minister a blank check.
“We are happy to help when it comes to something to make a better process for the state, but we will not hand over a blank check to a government that is already full of power,” Guy told Sky News Australia’s Peta Credlin. .
The proposed bill would remove the power to declare a pandemic from the Chief Health Officer and hand it over to the premiere, along with the option to extend the state of emergency for three-month blocks.
The health minister will also be able to impose “pandemic orders” – without proper parliamentary approval – which carries a penalty of up to two years in prison for those caught violating the orders.
The existing emergency regulations expire on 15 December.