Scott Morrison says workers’ vaccine requirement will be left to companies | Scott Morrison

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The Prime Minister has warned companies preparing to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for their staff to be careful, with neither the federal government nor the states and territories being prepared to create special laws to enforce vaccination mandates.

Instead, employers will have to navigate existing workplace laws, which include “reasonable” instructions to staff, if they wish to proceed with vaccination warrants, although Scott Morrison has warned that will remain open. to legal challenges.

Australian can giant SPC said it will make the vaccine mandatory for its employees earlier this week, and other large employers, including Qantas, have previously said they will review a directive on vaccines for staff.

Morrison, speaking after the last national cabinet meeting, said it was up to employers to make their own decisions, but they should be made within the existing legal framework and public health guidelines.

“We do not have a compulsory vaccination policy in this country,” he said.

“We don’t have that. We are not proposing to have that. It doesn’t change. But an employer can give reasonable direction to staff and if they do, they will need to remain consistent with the law and especially when faced with a situation where an employee may be in direct contact, potentially become infected and acquire the virus. “

Public health guidelines explicitly allow mandates for immunization in certain high-risk environments, including healthcare, working with vulnerable people, quarantine in hotels, in a frontline service, or on airlines when the personnel could come into contact with people who carry the virus.

“You see, in our country everyone has choices and they have choices that are supported by the rule of law, and I’m just pointing out that those choices have to be exercised and are compatible with the rule of law.” , Morrison said. .

“But as far as the Commonwealth government or state governments are concerned making mandatory or issuing public health orders or taking a legal approach, then well, except in the areas that I have already named – in the areas of quarantine and care for the elderly – Commonwealth and states are not taking any action in this area, otherwise the rule of law applies as it normally does.

On the other hand, someone who wanted to claim discrimination based on their vaccination status at work would also only have existing discrimination laws in which to work, and someone who would be denied service or service. entry into a business on the basis of the fact that he had been vaccinated would be aware of property law, which authorizes denial of entry.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday that the Covid vaccination may be required for workers in certain industries to return to work as the state suffers a prolonged lockdown due to the outbreak from Delta.

“We want to get people to get the jab, in terms of occupations that might be available,” Berejiklian said. “So potentially, if someone providing a service is vaccinated and their client is vaccinated, we feel a lot more comfortable relaxing that restriction on August 29. “

Meanwhile, Morrison said his government was still questioning whether it was challenging a ruling by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that the National Cabinet was not a subcommittee of the Federal Cabinet and therefore its records could be viewed in the framework of the access to information regime.

The government had previously refused to disclose the documents of the national cabinet’s deliberations, ruling that it was subject to the same rules of cabinet confidentiality as the federal cabinet and therefore exempted. The National Cabinet grew out of the previous Australian Council of Governments, which had not been bound by the same cabinet rules imposed when it was renamed the National Cabinet.

Morrison said it was up to the Commonwealth government to decide whether to appeal the decision, but stressed members of the national cabinet, which included the states and territories, wanted to be able to continue its secret deliberations.

“I can tell you that the national cabinet is very, very sure that it wants to be able to operate in the environment it has in terms of the security of the documents it works on, like any other cabinet,” he said. he declares.

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“This firm has operated very efficiently. There has been great openness and security about our discussions and the material we have had access to and being able to make important decisions and we think this is extremely important for the ongoing operations of the national cabinet. “

Morrison said the cabinet’s post-national press conferences were “living proof” of its transparency.

“This does not happen with any other firm, I must point out,” he said. “When I have a meeting of the federal cabinet or many subcommittees, we don’t have a press meeting. The national cabinet has a habit of being transparent in stating what has been agreed and what has been discussed and issues that have been raised.

“As a national cabinet, we have found the right balance. We’ve struck the right balance when it comes to transparency, when it comes to reporting the country, the issues we focus on and the decisions we make and the decisions we hope to make in the future, but so we will look into the AAT broadcasts.

In making his ruling, Justice Richard White discovered that the National Cabinet documents sought by Senator Rex Patrick, who brought the case to the AAT after being denied access under Cabinet confidentiality , “Would only involve the disclosure of the official results of the discussion and deliberations without any revelation of the proposals or discussions which preceded it”.

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