Blanket domestic Covid passports a threat to freedom

Government and corporate plans for ‘freedom incentives’, ‘vaccine passports’ and the power for employers to force employees to divulge their personal medical information is a dangerous precedent that potentially threatens the freedom of Australia’s citizens and will create second class citizens based on their health status. 

Doctor-patient confidentiality, together with the long-established legal right of medical privacy, should not be casually discarded by public health orders without well-considered Parliamentary debate and public scrutiny.        

The Government is rightly rolling out the vaccination process as quickly as possible and vaccination should be rolled out under the legal requirement of informed consent. The Australian Immunisation Handbook clearly states that for consent to be legally valid, “It must be given voluntarily in the absence of undue pressure, coercion or manipulation”. 

Therefore, it is difficult to see how informed consent can apply if people’s fundamental human freedoms to which citizens are entitled as of right are taken away by the force of government authorities, which are only restored for those vaccinated. Such actions may well be classified as undue pressure or manipulation, if not outright coercion.   

Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, said: “I encourage everyone to consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible, however once 100 per cent of the population has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, lockdowns and all restrictions should be a thing of the past and vaccine passports should not be a blunt instrument to force people to be vaccinated by locking them out of society.” 

“Denied or limited access to government and private businesses' goods and services should not be based on one’s medical status and the idea of a domestic ‘vaccine passport’ is a dangerous one that can create a class of citizens.” 

“The question then becomes, and which no-one seems willing to discuss, is how far do the authorities go to restrict these freedoms? How many vaccinations and booster shots or other medical procedures will be required on a person’s vaccine passport to allow them to participate as full citizens? This is a slippery slope. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there will be no turning back and freedom will be seriously compromised”.  

“The proposed restrictions on freedoms leaves questions from precedent to freedom to privacy and the situation for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.” 

“I may not think it a wise choice to refuse vaccination, but I support people’s innate right and freedom to decide medical procedures for themselves. What we need is a considered approach which takes full account of personal freedom and medical privacy. I join with Premiers Palaszczuk and Berejiklian, who said, “There should be free movement within Australia, vaccine or no vaccine”. (20/05/2021)

For the record, I am awaiting my second jab.” 

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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