Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (10:44): As of yesterday afternoon, there have been over two million vaccine shots administered in South Australia. That represents 79 per cent first dose and 62.3 per cent second dose. While this is a significant mark, we are obviously lagging behind primarily New South Wales, ACT and Victoria. To those who choose not to get vaccinated, let me say that this is where the rubber hits the road. The reason we are not yet able to open the borders in South Australia is that those rates are not as high as are required by the national road map, so I urge those who haven’t got vaccinated thus far to do so. Having said that, I think we are victims of our success, if you like. In those jurisdictions that have not had the high case numbers, it seems there is less of a sense of urgency within the community. So I’m not sure that we are nailed onto a higher percentage of people who will not get vaccinated, but certainly at this stage, we have a higher percentage of people who are not vaccinated.
I continue to field a few calls in my office from people upset about the fact that they have restrictions and upset about the concept of a ‘vaccine passport’. I’ve been trying to make the point that, when it comes to international borders, it’s the Australian government that’s in control. At this stage, we have very few coming into Australia full stop, and the federal government has moved to come up with an electronic proof of vaccination which, firstly, may facilitate movements into Australia and then may make life easier for people as they move around their states and their communities. The point is, of course, that it is the states’ rights, and they choose whether or not they let people over their borders.
I have a lot of people raise with me section 92 of the Constitution, but I can assure them that the Biosecurity Act actually allows states to exercise these rights. So, while people may not be happy about it, it is the state regimes they need to deal with. States have the rights and they also have the responsibility of protecting their citizens. Similarly, businesses have the right and the responsibility to protect their workers and their customers as well, and we’re seeing now a number of large employers around Australia state that they will only have vaccinated workers on their workforce. We know that that happened with the airlines first, and now with Coles, I think, and Woolworths. BHP said that their workers will be vaccinated by the end of January. So, while people might have a bit of a vent around it, these things aren’t within the government’s control. But I think they’re right and proper, and I applaud those companies that are actually taking that stance.
Not all evil originates in Canberra, I might say, so hang with us. Get vaccinated. Let’s get us over the line and they’ll get those borders open.