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Committee Affirms Lack of Requirement for Laws Against Vaccine Mandates

Two bills aimed at stopping the discrimination of individuals based on their vaccination status have been tabled in the Australian Senate, a move the Education and Employment Legislation Committee is pushing against.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Status Bill 2022 (Prevention of Discrimination Bill), proposed by One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson, is identical to her Prevention of Discrimination Bill that lapsed in 2021.

Ms. Hanson said the bill would future vaccine mandates and would defend the “basic principles which serve as essential foundations of Australian democracy.”

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The bill also seeks to “prevent any interference of free movement between and within the states and territories,” and “supports the inalienable rights and freedoms of all Australians.”

It also aims to “reduce the interference imposed by unnecessary, restrictive (and) bureaucratic red tape.”

The second bill by Liberal-National Senators Matthew Canavan, Alex Antic, and Gerard Rennick introduced in February would amend the Fair Work Act by adding “‘COVID-19 vaccination status’ as an attribute protected from discrimination.”

“The intention of the bill is to protect those employees who choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccination and acknowledge those thousands of people who lost their jobs when this was made a condition of their ongoing employment,” Senator Canavan stated in the second reading.

Proposed Laws Would Serve Little Purpose: Detractors

The Education and Employment Legislation Committee has recommended the Senate not pass the bills after releasing its report.

“Existing provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 already provide sufficient protections to uphold employment rights, making these bills redundant,” said the Committee, which noted could have health implications for the wider public.

“The provisions of the bills could create potential imbalances between the rights of individuals to refuse vaccines on one hand, against the broader community’s right to good health protections on the other,” it added.

Josh Pallas of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties also said current employment laws were “sufficient as they are.”

“Employees are already protected, to a proportionate extent, from discrimination based on vaccination status if it’s due to disability or to religious or political views,” he said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) also told the Committee that 68.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia, with just under 140,000 adverse effects reported.

“Most adverse effects were mild and transient symptoms, such as headache, muscle pain, fatigue, and nausea, or skin reactions of swelling, redness, and or rash,” said TGA Deputy Secretary and Professor Anthony Lawler.

However, Mr. Lawler noted serious adverse effects did occur “including 14 reports where the cause of death was linked to vaccination from 996 reports received and reviewed [with] no new vaccine-related deaths identified since 2022.”

“This benefit-risk ratio of vaccination in all age groups in all populations continues to be strongly positive,” Dr. Krishan Thiru, the country medical director of Pfizer Australia, told the Committee.

Opposition to Mandates Still Strong

The Australian Medical Professionals’ Society said there was reasonable justification for imposing mandates.

“There was no evidence that coercively enforced provisional vaccines could achieve the indication for which they were approved, stopping or reducing the spread,” the Society said in a submission.

This view was backed by the Australian Firefighters Association.

“Financial and psychological impacts have been immeasurable, long term and without end, affecting families, spouses, relationships, loss of homes and assets, incredible loss of livelihood,” it wrote in its submission.

The Committee also heard from individuals.

“Does the government and Fair Work Australia have the right to force vaccines on people especially now knowing that the vaccine has caused deaths and also many injuries?” said Deborah Hamilton, who claimed in a submission that her daughter Natalie died after taking the Moderna vaccine.

“There is no way any of my family members or friends will be having any further vaccines with what happened to Natalie,” she said.

“Australians were misinformed by the government, public health experts, and commentators on the need for vaccine mandates in order to curb community transmission of the virus. Many of those whose health has been significantly impacted as a result of these measures have been placed in this situation through ‘official misinformation,’” read another submission.

The Committee acknowledged the pandemic was hard for Australians. However, they stood behind their recommendation against the bills.

“The Committee has serious reservations about these bills on several grounds, not only that they seem unnecessary, but also that they would not enhance existing Australian laws protecting workplace and human rights.”

There was also enough evidence for the Committee to deem the vaccine and its mandates provided a net benefit to Australians during the pandemic, also noting that most restrictions and mandates have been relaxed.

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