“We’re coming out of lockdown. We’re coming out of dealing with a global pandemic.”
Mr Guy argued the state needed to live with COVID-19 and the health system should be bolstered to keep Victoria from falling back on what he described as the policy failure of lockdowns.
“We’re going to have an Andean variant, a Uruguayan variant, we’re going to get all variants for the next couple of years. We can’t have the government threatening to lock us down every single time,” he said.
“We want a government that gives us confidence … a government that doesn’t focus its energy on lockdowns and state of emergency but focuses on rebuilding our state. And that’s what we will do.”
Saturday’s campaign launch came against a backdrop of protest in the CBD and upper house negotiations over the stalled pandemic bill, which Mr Guy accused the government of wanting only to introduce more lockdowns.
Labor has been courting crossbench MPs to support the bill before the existing emergency powers expire on December 15. Without either framework, the government would have no mechanism to enforce health orders such as quarantine, mask and vaccination mandates.
Shadow treasurer David Davis, the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council, will next week push to install a parliamentary committee to consider the best way forward and report back in February next year.
The government has just days to lock in an agreement and end the impasse, with Parliament resuming on Tuesday for the final three days of the year.
Independent Catherine Cumming, who was open to discussions with the government only if Labor lifted vaccination requirements for all settings, attended Saturday’s CBD rally while Mr Guy said he believed no members of the Coalition had snubbed his campaign launch in favour of the protest.
Under the existing laws, the chief health officer can issue binding orders when a state of emergency is declared.
Under the proposed Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021, the premier and health minister would instead be empowered to respond to a pandemic.
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