Upper house

Victorian MPs set to challenge ‘antidemocratic’ vaccine mandate as opposition declares support


Mr Limbrick said the government was using the mandate to reduce the number of MPs likely to vote against an upcoming emergency powers bill that would give it the legal capacity to enforce many public health rules.

“I think this is one of the most undemocratic things I have ever seen,” he said.

“If the motion passes, which I assume it will, we will not honor it. We will not give details … to participate in public life.

“Basically what they’re doing is removing opposition to their pandemic legislation. “

The motion, which will be debated next week, would revoke the security access card of non-compliant MPs.

Treasurer Tim Pallas urged the two Liberal Democrat MPs to “shake off ideology momentarily”, saying elected officials have a responsibility to set an example for their community.

Liberal Party insiders say State MP Neil Angus is resisting pressure to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is imperative because [not complying] may be an expression of their freedom, but it is also an existential threat to those with whom they interact if they cannot demonstrate that they are vaccinated, ”said Mr. Pallas.

He added that the state’s constitution prevents MPs from voting outside parliament.


Those who refused to show their immunization status would be treated as if they had broken an order from the house and would have their access to the compound revoked until the second sitting day next year. The suspension would be lifted if the MP got his shot.

The Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday that all Labor MPs had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while the Liberal Party said all but one of its MPs were vaccinated.

While most MPs have been vaccinated, the mandate is likely to spark an ethical and legal debate over whether it is reasonable to deny certain voters a vote in parliament because their elected representative does not want to be vaccinated. or feels uncomfortable declaring their status.

The motion would also prevent members of the upper house from going to their offices if they were not vaccinated.

The mandate of MPs is aligned with government health ordinances that require authorized workers – including politicians – to be vaccinated. However, it would go further by making it a rule of the Houses of Parliament that MPs, without medical exemption, be vaccinated.

The motion states that Parliament staff must not share MPs’ immunization status and must destroy information provided by MPs where applicable.

Public health directives that enshrined Victoria’s mandate into law on Thursday revealed that licensed workers who refuse to be vaccinated could be fined $ 21,720, while companies could be fined nearly 110 $ 000. Additionally, anyone caught giving false or misleading information about their vaccine status could be fined close to $ 10,860 and businesses up to $ 54,300.

The instructions also specified that judges and magistrates would no longer be required to obtain the jab to continue their work.

Mr Pallas confirmed that the state had been advised that it could not legally engage people who worked in court proceedings due to a “separation of powers issue”. However, Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said the vaccination rate among judicial officers was “extremely high” anyway.

No other Australian parliament has mandated the vaccines, but NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said last month his state president was exploring the idea.

“My personal view is that all MPs should be vaccinated,” Hazzard said.

One of Australia’s leading constitutional law scholars, Anne Twomey, said the Houses of Parliament have the power to make rules about the conduct of their affairs through standing orders under the constitution of the Condition, but reported issues may arise with parts of the proposed immunization mandate.

Professor Twomey, University of Sydney, said “the chamber is likely to have the right to protect the health and safety of its members”.

“Its powers are unlikely to extend outside the chamber and rooms reserved for its members,” she said, but added that there are other pieces of legislation giving officers the Parliament the power to prevent people from entering the compound.

Members also have various immunities and privileges that could allow them access to Parliament.

“This could potentially give rise to legal controversy,” said Professor Twomey.

She also warned that a House standing order was unlikely to extend to imposing restrictions on a Member of Parliament to access their electoral office, but noted that the law in this area is extremely complex and that such a provision could be supported by other legislative texts.


Simon Longstaff, executive director of the Ethics Center, said the proposal was “quite remarkable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bogus.”

He said there was a need to debate whether a member’s right to attend Parliament was absolute or whether it was conditional.

To illustrate this point, Dr Longstaff said it would be reasonable to bar MPs from entering Parliament if they were suffering from an infectious disease.

However, he said the government would ideally exhaust all reasonable alternatives to make Parliament a safe environment with the participation of unvaccinated MPs. This could include the use of rapid entry tests or the use of committee rooms to house unvaccinated MPs.

The federal government has encouraged eligible Australians to get their COVID-19 vaccine, but has so far refrained from mandating vaccines broadly. However, he supported steps taken by the state to make vaccines mandatory for older healthcare workers, based on health advice.

Veteran Victorian Liberal MP Russell Broadbent announced last week that he would not receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Several Liberal Party sources confirmed that a motion had been presented to the Warragul branch of the party to revoke its approval, but it was rejected.

“People here are pissed off and that’s a huge concern, a local liberal source said. Age. “He can’t go to Canberra, and Parliament won’t let him. “

Age spoke to several party officials who confirmed Mr. Broadbent would ask for a pair. If approved, it would mean that the government’s margin in the House of Representatives would not be affected.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and the Federal Greens have taken a similar stance as the federal government, although former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten supports mandatory jabs for MPs.

Staff working in the Federal Parliament will be offered Pfizer vaccines at a clinic in the building on Monday ahead of a fortnightly session later this month, but there is no indication from ACT or government officials that the jabs will be a condition of entry.

Several federal MPs are not vaccinated, including Mr. Broadbent and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

With Tammy Mills

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and ideas of the day. register here.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.