Thursday, 25 November 2021
Covid-19: Vaccination, Bowman Electorate: Homelessness
[by video link] I rise today to speak about vaccine mandates. We know how important vaccination is, and Australia is now one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. But I've always argued that additional coercion and pressure doesn't get you much of a result. You might move a small percentage of people who need a nudge, but you start getting distortions and deadweight loss. We're now seeing martyring of those who definitely don't want to be vaccinated. It's not terribly helpful. As a medical practitioner and a registered specialist, we will win this and vaccinate this population. We don't need to move to non-evidence-based mandates. I want to be clear about what that is. Of course there's an evidence base for vaccinating any worker in contact with COVID cases in the healthcare system, in aged care, in disability; there's very strong public health evidence for that.
Fair Work has very clearly indicated that there are a number of tiers where the degree of reasonableness falls away as the evidence weakens. In public health, we need to make sure that that evidence is provided freely, fairly, openly, publicly and in real time. There are not enough CHOs doing that. That's a real loss for our country if, unlike the Commonwealth, the CMO and the AHPPC, we're not releasing this evidence. It must be released, if possible. Otherwise, you end up with this appalling situation I'm seeing in Queensland, where it is alleged that practitioners will squirt the vaccine on the ground for a fee of $5,000 and sign you off as having been vaccinated so that the unvaccinated can get around the mandate. That kind of behaviour is not what we need in a democracy with a high-quality health system like Australia. There are inconsistencies in border travel for people flying in from overseas. If they fly via Sydney, they get hotel quarantine in Queensland; if they fly direct to Brisbane, they get to home quarantine. These are inconsistencies not based on public health evidence. On Sunday 5 December at 9 am at the Cleveland Library, I'll be talking about these vaccine mandates, where they belong and where they have no place.
I would also like to talk about homelessness in my electorate. This is a really important issue. I made a pledge three years ago that no Redlander should live without a roof over their head. In the last week we've seen a complete collapse again in homelessness services, with the Homeless United Program being defunded by the state Labor government—a perfectly-working, 98 per cent successful program replaced by the northside drive-in drive-out service of part-timers. It's not good enough, Minister Enoch.
I've spent the past two days on a full-court press trying to help a family with six children who were left in a park in the rain, living in a tent, because there were no services. Queensland Housing rose to that challenge. They moved the earth to get this family housed. The family are now housed, and I am so proud that Queensland Housing lifted where providers were not able to. We need to remember this: some of us will find ourselves in these terrible situations where we're without a home. No child should have to go through that. I want to thank Andrew and Helen Drysdale, from Pat Barrett Realty, who stayed with that family until we got them housed. Thank you.