Liberal MPs split over mandatory jabs for construction workers
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A western Sydney Liberal MP says she will lead the charge to block mandatory vaccinations for construction workers, in a move that will bitterly divide the NSW government as it battles the worsening COVID-19 outbreak.
Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies will introduce legislation to ensure there is “no blanket mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations and to ensure nobody will be discriminated against based on their COVID-19 vaccination status”.
Liberal MP Tanya Davies says tradies should not be forced to be vaccinated.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
The move comes after the state government revealed on Saturday that it would allow construction workers from Sydney’s eight worst-hit local government areas to return to unoccupied worksites if they are vaccinated.
Construction workers from those areas of south-west and western Sydney will need to show proof they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or one dose at least three weeks before attending work.
If a first dose was less than three weeks ago, workers will need a negative test in the previous 72 hours. Construction sites will also operate at 50 per cent capacity.
However, Ms Davies, who was one of three MPs who attempted to move a spill motion on Premier Gladys Berejiklian in 2019 over abortion decriminalisation, said “no person should lose their job if they do not get vaccinated”.
Her stance is also supported by Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts, Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith and Riverstone MP Kevin Conolly.
“A person may not be vaccinated for any number of medical, ethical or religious reasons,” Mrs Davies said.
“We as a government should be protecting people’s individual rights and circumstances. Employees should not be forced into COVID-19 vaccination. This is an assault on an individual’s freedoms and civil liberties.”
Attorney General Mark Speakman: “Why should vaxxed tradies’ freedom be held back by those who won’t vax?”Credit:Brook Mitchell
Mrs Davies said other potential problems could be leaving businesses liable for unfair dismissal for “any employee who reasonably refuses” or any adverse reactions in workers from a vaccine.
“No business should have to carry this legal risk and no employee should be forced to have a medical procedure they may reasonably not want,” Mrs Davies said.
The Premier has been contacted for comment.
Last night, NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman tweeted that it was the “right call made on vaccination of tradies in the eight most COVID-19-affected LGAs”.
“The only safe, realistic alternative to the vaccine regime for those tradies was not letting them out of the LGAs at all!” Mr Speakman’s tweet said.
“Why should vaxxed tradies’ freedom be held back by those who won’t vax?”
Mr Conolly, who is vaccinated, said he supported COVID-19 jabs because vaccinations were crucial in stopping people from becoming critically ill from the virus, but it was not government’s role to force them on businesses.
“I find it absolutely outrageous that, as a government, we should be forcing business into something like mandatory vaccination – that is not the role of a government,” Mr Conolly said.
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