Thursday, 21 March 2024


COVID-19 vaccination


COVID-19 vaccination

Ann-Marie HERMANS (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (18:00): (812) My adjournment is addressed to the Minister for Emergency Services. In light of the recent decision by the Queensland Supreme Court, which has ruled that forcing vaccine mandates on workers is unlawful, the action I seek is for the minister to revoke the mandate on unvaccinated firefighters in Victoria, effective immediately. A Bond University associate law professor said:

… the largest part of the decision –

in Queensland –

focused on the … Queensland Human Rights Act, and only the ACT and Victoria have “comparable” legislation.

… What this decision basically says is that, under the Human Rights Act, anyone making a decision firstly needs to think about the human rights implications of the decision they’re planning on making and secondly, consider whether or not the proposal is still reasonable.

Fire Rescue Victoria is the only fire service in Australia still enforcing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. Further inquiries from constituents continue to be received in my office from firefighters wanting to return to work. I am going to have to skip through a whole lot of really important points here in order to get to some of the main things.

In a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing, I must say, it was confirmed by Rick Nugent that firefighters without the vaccine would not be working this season. We are still in a fire season even though we are no longer in summer, and we always are at risk in our summer periods. Meanwhile, we have a CFA with outdated and inadequate resources, and we also have firefighters unable to do their jobs because their resources have not been properly updated. This decision has opened up discussions about legality and ethical considerations as well because dozens of frontline workers remain off work after suffering serious conditions as a result of taking the COVID-19 vaccines, which has led to more than $4 million of WorkCover claims to date. 125 essential workers required to take the vaccine developed serious illnesses, with some people suffering life-altering conditions, and there are more than 40 cases which remain open, which could see ongoing payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state’s troubled and plagued WorkCover system. I could go on. There is so much information here that gives all the reasons why we need to look at this.

The vaccine information clearly states that the maximum effectiveness periods for both transmission and individual protection are only four to six months for primary and boosters. So, Minister, employees who have not received further doses beyond the third dose deadline are no more protected than non-vaccinated. Despite the above inconsistencies, dozens of firefighters and employees remain stood down without pay and are deemed to be noncompliant by FRV, purportedly considered a risk in the workplace. Victoria Police has scrapped the mandate, as has every other fire agency in Australia, conforming to the legislative changes which took effect on 12 July. I call on the minister to review COVID-19 vaccine mandates and remove the mandate so that we can re-engage experienced firefighting professionals who have been excluded from the workplace in Victoria.