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Victorian Govt extends state of emergency by six months

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A six-month extension to the Victorian government’s state of emergency powers has passed parliament after a surprise intervention by the Greens.

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Victorian Greens upper house MP Samantha Ratnam returned from maternity leave to vote for the government’s amended bill early on Wednesday morning.

“I felt it was just too important that I had to be here,” she told reporters as she arrived at parliament with two-month-old Malala.

Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick also voted in favour of the six-month extension, giving the government 20 votes in the 40-member upper house.

The bill passed just before 2am on Wednesday, with 20 votes in favour and 19 against.

Premier Daniel Andrews originally sought a 12-month extension to the state of emergency powers, which allow the chief health officer to issue public health directions.

The current state of emergency was due to expire on September 13, along with Melbourne’s stage four lockdown and regional Victoria’s stage three rules.

The amended bill is specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and includes additional transparency measures, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.

It comes as Victoria recorded five coronavirus deaths and 70 new cases on Tuesday, its lowest single-day increase in cases since July 3.

The state government on Sunday will release its plans to move both Melbourne and regional Victoria out of restrictions, noting they will be different.

Active case numbers outside of the capital have plummeted to 139.

“Given the low case numbers it will be possible for us to have different settings in regional Victoria, and a different timeline and road map compared to what will be essential in metropolitan Melbourne,” the premier said.

-AAP

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