Thousands of protesters gather in Melbourne’s CBD to demonstrate against new pandemic laws

Thousands of protesters arrived in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday protesting against vaccine mandates and Victoria’s new pandemic laws.

Protesters have called on Prime Minister Daniel Andrews to step down as they face off against the Victorian government’s new pandemic legislation.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday and made their opposition heard as they marched through the city streets and met outside the state parliament.

Protesters held up signs including “oppose new pandemic legislation”, “stop the bill” and “guy Dan Andrews”.

Protesters also raged against vaccine mandates in Victoria, where the state government has previously announced that authorized workers must be fully vaccinated by 26 November.

Andrews has also warned that unvaccinated Victorians will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions “well into 2022”.

Protesters were met with a large police presence “to ensure the safety of society and no breach of the peace”.

Legislation giving Andrews new pandemic powers passed the Victorian Legislature 51 votes to 26 on Thursday night after being introduced to parliament earlier this week.

The bill will now go to the Victorian upper house, where it must have 21 votes to be passed.

The Andrews government has 17 seats in the House and is believed to have the support of the Greens, Animal Justice Party and Reason Party, each with a seat.

If approved, the laws would give Mr Andrews the power to declare a pandemic for three months at a time and allow Health Minister Martin Foley to approve public health orders.

Currently, Chief Medical Officer Professor Brett Sutton must sign public health orders before they are imposed on the state.

People found guilty of “intentionally and recklessly” violating public health orders will also risk two years in prison or a $ 90,500 fine, and companies can be fined up to $ 452,500.

An independent advisory committee on pandemic management will also be set up under the bill, and any advice from the committee to the minister will have to be submitted to parliament.

Sir. Foley said the legislation would ensure the state has “the most responsible, transparent and public health-focused system” in Australia.

A statement from the Prime Minister added that the laws will “introduce greater transparency and accountability in decision-making”.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy has promised that his party will drop Victoria’s new pandemic powers if he is voted in the next election.

Guy, who spoke in parliament on Thursday, gave an “absolute guarantee” that he would repeal the new laws and put forward an alternative proposal for powers of state of emergency.

“I give an absolute guarantee: when we get back to the government of this state, we will repeal this law because it is fundamentally right to do so,” he said.

“This is a democracy. People fought and died for this democracy. The separation of the judiciary and this parliament is so important.”

A group of QCs have also called on the Victorian Parliament to amend or block the new pandemic powers, arguing that the bill would allow the government to “rule by decree” for an extended period.

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