With the NSW government now openly threatening that the public will not be able to participate in social activities, work in the public sector or travel interstate unless they are vaccinated for COVID-19, The Echo asked local NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens) what her party is doing about protecting civic rights and freedoms.
She replied, ‘The Nationals-Liberal government have no accountability, as they haven’t sat in parliament for months’.
‘There’s no opportunity to interrogate their policies, and all the data around their COVID-19 response is kept secret’.
She says that her party supports vaccination, ‘but not cohesion or punishment as a public policy’.
‘To bully and apply coercion is an appalling way to do public messaging. The evidence is that such measures push those undecided, or against, underground. The conversation is lost’.
When asked if there are mandatory vaccination rules for politicians, their staff and bureaucrats, Ms Smith replied MPs and their staff cannot attend parliament unless vaccinated.
In recent weeks it has emerged that NSW Premier Berejiklian handed many powers to police, in particular around curfews, which came without health expert advice.
Ms Smith said, ‘I am told police don’t like curfews, as it’s not easy to police. It’s also not an effective way to engage with communities. Deputy Premier John Barilaro (Nats) said this was in response to media pressure, which looks like a decision that is based on optics. My experience is that police are often the last to know of any government policy’.
Ms Smith says it’s unlikely the police are trying to increase their powers in the background.
She said, ‘Most police are there for the right reasons, but as for police minister David Elliott… the “tough on law and order” is more about certain voter enclaves than good policing’.
A positive from the unfolding pandemic, says Ms Smith, is that there is access to vaccines. ‘Many do not have that. It’s a privilege’.