House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021


COVID-19: Vaccination

7:55 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Philosopher Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest thinkers of our time, said:

As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.

That is why I want to talk about the harmful impacts of vaccine mandates. I have received over 100,000 emails about vaccine mandates. Some are from people who have lost their jobs. Some are from people who are vaccinated but are wanting to register their opposition to governments forcing other people to be vaccinated.

Contrary to the mainstream media line, the vast majority of people opposing such mandates are not anti-vaxxers. They are people who have had adverse reactions; who have suffered vaccine injury; who have lost their jobs and, as a result, lost their families; or who have watched their friends, family members and colleagues suffer as a result of those mandates. They are hardworking Aussies who do not believe anyone should be forced to get the jab in order to work or to access basic and essential services, let alone be ostracised from the wider community. People from all over the country have contacted my office to tell me about their stories. These are real people who are scared and suffering. They are police officers, nurses, doctors, paramedics, teachers, miners, small-business owners, mums and dads. They are your sisters, your brothers, your neighbours and your family members, and I want to give them a voice in this chamber.

One of my constituents from Mackay is pregnant. She has now lost her job due to a workplace vaccine mandate and is in significant distress because, she says, she can't access doctor and midwife appointments in person because she is unvaccinated. She is not anti vaccination; she just wants to be sure of the long-term effects of the vaccine before she has it.

Then there are those on the verge of suicide or who have attempted suicide because of the stress of workplace vaccine mandates. I have had constituents tell my office they are seriously considering suicide, to the point where staff have had to refer people to Lifeline. I had a construction worker email my office from a hospital on a Sunday morning after he had attempted to take his own life. The week prior, he had lost his job because of a vaccine mandate, and as a result his wife had left him and taken the kids. He told my staffer that he had nothing left to live for.

My office has been contacted by multiple local aviation firefighters who have raised concerns about the travelling public being placed at risk due to staff shortages because of impending vaccine mandates that have short-staffed airports of firefighters, including at my local airports in Mackay and Proserpine.

I was also contacted by a Mackay psychologist who, despite having a blood clotting disorder, is unable to obtain a medical exemption. She wanted to continue working and support her clients of 30 via telehealth, but some bureaucrat has decided she should be vaccinated in order to sit in her own study and treat people over a computer screen. So now she is going to have to change careers after 30 years of service.

I have also received emails from constituents who have had adverse reactions to vaccines. Yes, while they are rare, the fact is that they may happen. A young mum had heart palpitations and chest pains after the first dose of Pfizer and is now so scared get the second, but she has to if she wants to keep her job. How is that not coercion? She has to choose between paying her mortgage and putting food on the table for her kids or risking another adverse reaction which could be worse for her.

These mandates are putting people under undue stress. These stories, these cries and these pleas for help are simply not being listened to. We should be listening. It is clearly state governments and private corporations in the main causing this harm, but it is Commonwealth data from the Australian Immunisation Register that is enabling that harm, as that data shows who is vaccinated or not.

State governments and private corporations might not be listening, but I am not in state parliament or on a private corporation board; I'm in the federal parliament. So I want the Australian government to listen by not allowing its data to be misused to cause such harm. Until we do, I am no longer listening to the government whips on how I should vote in this place. Instead, I'm voting with my own conscience on every bill. I'm not doing this to be difficult; I'm doing my job. I'm representing views of my constituents, serving the people and standing up for the vulnerable, and I call on all of us to listen. Listen to the pleas for help, the distress and the suffering. Vaccine mandates are unnecessary, they're cruel, and I fear they're causing a tear in the social fabric that will take many, many years to repair.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

In accordance with the resolution agreed to earlier this sitting, the time for members' statements has concluded.