This week the Palaszczuk Government imposed new restrictions that will divide our society and cost many Queenslanders their jobs.
Unvaccinated Queenslanders are now banned from working in or attending pubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, museums, indoor and outdoor entertainment activities, tourism experiences, and many other places.
These restrictions turn unvaccinated Queenslanders into second class citizens.
If just 15 per cent of workers in affected industries remain unvaccinated, 100,000 Queenslanders will lose their jobs. This includes 31,000 retail workers, 23,000 hospitality workers, and 16,000 transport and postal workers – hardly high risk industries.
And they aren’t all anti-vax conspiracy theorists.
I recently spoke to a specialist doctor who is undergoing IVF. She has been advised not to get vaccinated until she finishes the process – because we don’t yet know how the vaccines interact with IVF drugs. Because of the mandates, she will lose her ability to practice and her 1000 patients will go to the back of an 18 month waiting list to see another specialist.
Another doctor I spoke to has a pre-existing heart condition. His heart specialist says he’s not a good candidate for the vaccine. He wants to manage the risks through the use of Rapid Antigen Tests. But the Queensland mandates make no allowance for people this.
Vaccination is incredibly important. It is the best thing individuals can do to protect themselves. It’s also our pathway to living safely with the virus.
Every Queenslander has had access to vaccination and time to make a decision that’s right for them. Some in the community have chosen to accept the increased risks and not get the jab. We may not agree with this decision, but we should respect their right to make it.
We are a nation made up of people from many lands, beliefs, backgrounds and interests. We have come together to form a safe, free and fair society.
Creating an underclass of unvaccinated Queenslanders who are excluded from society will cause deep divisions and push many to the fringe. It will damage the community minded spirt that has helped us get through the last two years.
We have reached the 80 per cent vaccination target set out in the National Plan. Covid-19 is here to stay and we must learn to live safely with the virus. This means many of us will eventually get Covid-19.
Those who are vaccinated will have mild symptoms, much like a flu. Those who aren’t vaccinated know they may suffer more serious health consequences. They should be allowed to manage these added risks in other ways, such as through the use or Rapid Antigen Tests, which are cheap, readily available, and take just 10 minutes to produce a result.
Instead, Queensland Labor is reviving the kind of nasty discrimination we have tried so hard to eradicate from Australian society.
Denying unvaccinated Queenslanders basic freedoms is wrong. It is disproportionate to the risks and contrary to the principles that have made our nation free, fair and tolerant. This is not the Australia, or the Queensland, I know and love.