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Acting Greens leader responds evasively to questions over state of emergency vote

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Victoria’s state of emergency has been extended by six months after Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam returned to Parliament early from maternity leave to get the bill over the line.

Ms Ratnam’s vote provided the third crossbencher vote needed to pass the bill allowing the extension.

Neil Mitchell questioned what prompted Ms Ratnam’s decision to return early for the vote.

“The Greens don’t do this without a payoff or a favour recalled, getting their points up,” the 3AW Mornings host said.

Acting Victorian Greens leader Ellen Sandell said the party supported the bill after it was amended to six months, rather than 12, and narrowed to apply exclusively to the COVID-19 pandemic, not any other future emergency.

“Initially the Premier wanted 12 months and for it to be related to any future emergency,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“We said ‘no, we can’t have that level of control’.”

But Ms Sandell dodged questions about whether there was a ‘sweetener’ deal that drove Ms Ratnam to return to Parliament early, with her one-month-old baby, to vote.

Neil Mitchell: I want to make this 100 per cent clear because if there is anything it will come out. There were no sweeteners whatsoever, no quid pro quo, no favours promised outside this legislation? You voted simply on the legislation, no power games, no deals, no offers from the government?

Ms Sandell: We voted with the conditions…

Neil Mitchell: Yes, but I’m asking you outside the legislation.

Ms Sandell: No Neil, what I’m saying is that we didn’t support the legislation in its first instance, but we did have a negotiation with the government. The negotiation was about the transparency and accountability mechanisms, which is why we ultimately supported it.

Neil Mitchell: So unequivocally, no other deals?

Ms Sandell: Just what I said to you then, Neil, we looked at it on its merits.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has refused to answer questions over whether a deal was struck with any of the three crossbenchers who voted in favour of the bill.

Press PLAY below for the full interview.

Victoria’s state of emergency powers extended for six months