Senators Statements - Palaszczuk Government's Restrictions on Unvaccinated Queenslanders

Queensland: COVID-19 Senator STOKER (Queensland—Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations) (13:40): After months of dealing with snap lockdowns and border restrictions, Queensland is finally set to reopen on 17 December. This will come as a huge relief to many, but it is a source of great anxiety for hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders. That's because 17 December will trigger the introduction of the Palaszczuk government's harsh new restrictions on the basic freedoms of unvaccinated Queenslanders. People who remain unvaccinated after this date will be banned from all hospitality, cultural and entertainment venues. They'll be banned from restaurants, cafes, pubs, stadiums, museums, libraries, public transport and almost every other public place. On top of this, the Palaszczuk government's mandates will see around 100,000 Queenslanders lose their jobs. This isn't just workers in high-risk occupations dealing with vulnerable people. It includes around 31,000 retail workers, 23,000 hospitality workers and 16,000 transport and postal workers—all losing their jobs just before Christmas. Let me be clear: vaccination is incredibly important. It's the best thing individuals can do to protect themselves from the serious health consequences that COVID can cause. It's also our pathway to living safely with the virus. But there are some people who, for their own reasons, choose not to get vaccinated, and that's inevitable with human choice. People who make this decision voluntarily accept the increased health risks that come with catching the virus. How we treat these people is a mark of our society. We might not agree with their decision, but it is simply wrong to relegate them to the status of second-class citizens. It's callous and divisive, and it will push many to the fringes of our society, feeding the extremism that Labor and the Greens claim to— (Time expired)