Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Emperor has no mask: Bev McArthur

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Beverly McArthur, MP, Western Victoria Region, Media Release, 26 October 2021

We have learned that a Bill will be introduced into the Parliament that will strengthen the powers of the Premier, who in reality has become a unilateral dictator addicted to power without scrutiny. This has to be opposed with every means at our disposal. 

He will effectively have ongoing State of Emergency Laws in his own hands via a ‘pandemic declaration’.

In the Lower House of the State Parliament, this Bill will be swept through due to the huge majority enjoyed by the government.

It is another matter in the Legislative Council where 11 cross bench MPs can exert their voice and vote.

However, with four MPs absent from the Chamber due to their refusal to supply proof of vaccination, the Bill will inevitably pass this Chamber as well. I beg these four MPs: David Limbrick, Tim Quilty, Catherine Cumming and Adem Somyurek to return to the Chamber to fight this outrageous extra grab for power by this Premier. 

It’s a state of emergency in the State of Emergency.

The Premier’s freedom is of the dictated variety.

It’s tribal – you’re either in or you’re out. You’re with him, or you’re not. Good versus bad. Saint versus sinner.

Such potentially offensive anti-democratic legislation demands the conscience of every vote in the Parliament.

But here’s the rub.

For this cult Premier now famed for his divide and conquer tactics, his effort to reduce opposing voices in the Parliament for votes such as this, is perhaps his best tactical move yet.

And worst.

Members of the Victorian Parliament can no longer enter the Parliament if they are not vaccinated, or not willing to supply proof of their vaccination.

It is the crowning glory of Andrews’ rule by division. It will be put to the test today when the Parliament sits again.

Like more than 70 per cent of Australian adults, I am doubly vaccinated. I don’t personally have an issue with providing evidence of my vaccination.

I did, however, ultimately support the vaccination motion brought before the House in the last sitting week, and I did so for three key reasons. 

Firstly, I voted in favour because I am a citizen of Victoria – no more or less special or important than any others mandated to vaccine servitude. I like my job. In fact, I love my job because it involves helping my fellow Victorians get value for their hard-earned taxes and holding this incompetent and dictatorial Government to account. I can only do this in the Parliament with my vote and by having access to my electorate office.

Proving my vaccination provides the keys to this Emperor’s chamber. 

There are MPs who voted against this rule because they believe it usurps two of the last liberties we have: choice and privacy. They are right to question the temerity of this latest push-politics.

I would have preferred encouragement and education to mandates.

Secondly, proving you are vaccinated does not stop the virus entering the Parliament. You can still catch the virus and pass it on even if you are vaccinated.

If making the Parliament safer was the whole point of this exercise, then it has already failed.

What would have made the parliament safer is the instigation of Rapid Antigen Testing for Covid-19. The test has been advocated by the Coalition for months and widely used around the world and is now being used in various vulnerable facilities in Victoria.

In this way, a very tight rein could have been kept on the covid-status of our government’s decision-making HQ.  Every day, every pollie, every parliamentary official, political staffer and site employee could be tested. Positive result – go away. Negative result – come on in.

This rapid-testing option was proposed by Upper House Independent Dr Catherine Cumming. Her amendment was supported by the Coalition but voted down by Labor MPs and the usual cross bench cabal of Andrews loyalists: Ratnam, Patten and Meddick and, on this occasion, Jeff Bourman and Rod Barton.

The Government’s refusal to support this amendment clearly demonstrated its motion to ban MPs was not about workplace safety. It was only ever a political stunt.  

My third reason is this: if MPs can’t enter the Parliament, they can’t vote.

A failure to oblige, enhances the Premier’s power and reduces voices of opposition. It inflates his capacity to push through even more outrageous legislation such as that revealed today, his personal pandemic lever.

Enough of our freedoms – enough of our democracy – and enough of our democratic rights have been crushed by this Premier.  My vote, and my intent to sit in the House, means I will continue to represent the 500,00 plus constituents of Western Victoria.

I will not give this megalomaniac Premier the legislative leeway he craves like a sucking leech, bleeding the parliament of accountability. In truth, bleeding every Victorian.

Every vote counts and for freedom, every vote is precious.

This Government has dictated terms that strip fundamental freedoms – the freedom of movement, the freedom to work, to play, to learn, to care, to speak up, to protest and now the freedom to represent constituents.

David Limbrick, Tim Quilty, Catherine Cumming and Adem Somyurek can change their minds at any time, and provide proof of their vaccination. Today would be perfect.

If they don’t, it means they cannot sit in the House – or their office – and do their job. It leaves more than 2 million constituents without their representative voice.

For clarity, Mr Somyurek is rarely seen, or sits, in the Parliament these days. He will, however, make compelling viewing in the IBAC hearings.

The Premier couldn’t be happier.

MPs join the ranks of the divided across Victoria.

The banned MPs cannot enter the parliament or their offices until February next year. They will miss three sitting weeks this year. 

These weeks provide glorious opportunity for this megalomaniac Premier. He has created and cleared the pathway of opposing voices – and now he intends to walk down it.

Although I sympathise with their position, I urge the four MPs who wish to enforce their rights to reconsider. Every Victorian needs them right now. They need to be in the Parliament.

Victorians should understand the real intent of the motion for MPs to prove vaccination. It has nothing to do with safety, or the spread of the virus at Parliament House.

It has everything to do with power. Unbridled power adorned with a saviour’s halo.

Premier Andrews wants to keep his opponents out of the Parliament. As he has throughout this drama, he has sought total observance and subservience – total rule – total control.

He has gone to the parliament to silence critics and impose a uniform kow tow.

The Pandemic Management Bill goes further, laying Victorians prostrate at his alter.

That he has gone this far should frighten us more than any virus.

This Emperor has no clothes – and when he desires – no mask.

Related story: Laws to enshrine safe and clear pandemic responses: Daniel Andrews

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