Attempts to widen religious exemptions in Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act have failed in the Legislative Assembly after the Ballieu Liberal Government’s Minister for Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge, missed the vote.
Wooldridge’s absence denied the government a crucial vote in passing the legislation which meant the vote in the Assembly tied 43-43 and therefore lost.
News that the bill had failed broke on twitter around 4.30pm today and were confirmed by MPs tweeting from inside the Parliament.
Victorian Opposition leader Daniel Andrews tweeted, “this is a victory for fairness. We stuck to our principles and this Bill has been justly defeated,” while Western Victoria Region MP Jaala Pulford tweeted, “Happy day. Victoria’s equal opportunity laws have survived a nasty assault by the Baillieu Ryan government.”
The official Victorian Labor twitter channel tweeted, “The Baillieu Government’s attempt to wind back the clock on equal opportunity has been voted down in the Assembly!”
The Labor Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards tweeted, “So proud to be a member of Labor and to stand up for equal opp for all. A great united team and historic win on floor of House tonight.”
Labor MLC Martin Pakula tweeted, “Mary Wooldridge takes dithering to new heights. Epic defeat for a Government descending into chaos.”
The Star Observer understands that following the vote the Leader of the House and Government Whip were summoned to the Office of Premier Ted Baillieu.
Wooldridge has reportedly released a statement saying she supported the wind back of protections in the Equal Opportunities Act and is “embarrassed” she missed the vote, but will provide an explanation to the House as soon as possible.
A Victorian Government has not lost a vote in the Legislative Assembly in 30 years.