Australia politics live update: Morrison introduces religious discrimination bill; Christensen ‘clarifies’ Hitler, Mao comments

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Lisa Fitzpatrick says the debate around Victoria’s pandemic bill “has swung into at times toxic political territory focusing on personalities and revenge rather than on protecting Victorians and our health workforce”.

Meanwhile beyond exhausted nurses and midwives feel taken for granted while the critics pretend the pandemic is over. We are furious at this self-indulgence. We need our politicians and the community to care for nurses and midwives so they can care for them.”

This morning unions representing nurses, midwives, doctors, paramedics and patient transport staff held a press conference to urge Victorian politicians to remember the bill should be about health in their last-minute pandemic bill negotiations.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch), the Australian Medical Association Victoria, the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation and the Victorian Ambulance Union are confident the bill provides the equivalent powers as the legislation of other Australian states. In a statement, the unions said:

It provides the health minister with the critical ability to receive expert health advice and to respond quickly and decisively. These decisions cannot be made via a committee and must be entrusted to the elected position rather than a committee. The health unions also believe the bill provides appropriate transparency and accountability.

They say without the new pandemic laws the state government will not be able to quickly respond to sharp increases in hospitalisations by pausing or re-introducing some restrictions; require aged care, healthcare workers and others to have the Covid-19 booster; or require Covid-19 positive people to isolate until they no longer pose a risk.

It would also be difficult to contain an outbreak in a small town with no mechanism to isolate the population, the union say, or to implement different levels of isolation according to vaccination status.

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Motion to suspend standing orders is defeated

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