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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Editorial: Vax conscription resistance

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Employers posting ‘jobs without the need for a jab’ and businesses making it clear that unvaccinated people are welcome to shop, exercise, drink and eat at their premises are finding a voice on social media.

As NSW prepares to open up, with a plan that’s predominantly based on giving some freedom back to those who are vaccinated, thousands of people are joining these social media groups, hoping for an alternative to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Some of these people are waiting for the existing preliminary approval to be made final, others are concerned about the ever-changing directions regarding which age groups can take what company’s vaccine. Some want more information about short-term and/or potential long-term side effects, pointing to suspensions of vaccines in other countries, and they simply wish to wait.

Still others are taking a stance on the integrity of their own bodies, while there are many who resent the government’s pressure to inject a drug for which it has given pharmaceutical company’s immunity from claims, and for which the Australian government has neglected, unlike many other countries, to introduce a compensation scheme for those adversely affected.

Some question why doctors have been threatened with disciplinary action for expressing concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, while others are simply against vaccinations altogether.

Not an ‘anti-vax’ debate, but a pro-choice one

There are many who believe the current ‘anti-vaxer’ versus ‘pro-vaxer’ rhetoric is inaccurate, and that the debate boils down to bodily integrity.

These people include NSW Policewoman, Senior Constable Belinda Holcroft, who is currently taking legal action against State Health Minister Brad Hazzard over the ‘no jab, no job’ mandate in place for LGAs of concern in NSW.

Similarly, a concerned group of Qld Police officers have banded together in a legal challenge to a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all staff and officers in the force. A crowd-funding page has already raised about $50,000.

‘This is not a pro-or anti-vaccine matter’, the group stated.

‘It is a question of whether our employers on behalf of the government can authorise civil conscription and interfere with the relationship between a patient and their doctor by mandating a vaccine’.

Four separate legal challenges have been launched in the Supreme Court of NSW against Public Health Orders, that mandate vaccinations for either employees in certain industries, or those who reside in certain areas.

The challenges have now been joined, and are listed on September 30 for the determination. Unfortunately, the government has all but handed the responsibility for mandating vaccines to business, and in doing so, given businesses the right to interfere in people’s personal choices, and privacy, when there is no protective overarching legislation in place.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently decreed that businesses can set their own policies under its guidelines, which offer a tiered system for categorising workers. Additionally, the Ombudsman advised that such direction must meet standards for lawful and reasonable action.

Of the handful of unfair dismissal cases that have made it to the Fair Work Commission over vaccine refusal, none have been decided in favour of the employee. Even so, many businesses (let’s not forget the majority in NSW are small businesses, which don’t have in-house legal expertise and possibly not even full-time HR resources) are nervous about the repercussions of writing and implementing their own policies, and rightly so. This is unprecedented.

Vaccination rates are steadily climbing, without heavy-handed coercion, so it’s important to ask why this is even occurring right now when there’s no health data that supports mandated vaccinations.

To date, there has been no public consultation on the debate around vaccine consent, and this in itself is a failing of democracy.

In Australia, the pandemic has afforded our state leaders an unprecedented level of power, without oversight or accountability. NSW parliament has not sat since June, and will not sit again until mid-October. Essentially this means that the full legislative process is on pause, and decisions are being made by a handful of ministers engaged in the ‘emergency cabinet.’

By Sonia Hickey and first published by www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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