Legislative Council: Tuesday, September 26, 2023


COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccinations

The Hon. S.L. GAME (14:56): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing questions to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates for frontline SA Health workers.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.L. GAME: Media outlets recently reported that the Queensland Chief Health Officer has deemed COVID-19 mandates unnecessary. The Queensland health minister remarked, 'Given the global workforce shortages, it now makes sense to reconsider this mandate.' My questions to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, are:

1. Why are SA Health employees facing immediate termination for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations, as alerted to me by a worker terminated on 30 August 2023, when Queensland has deemed such mandates unnecessary?

2. How many SA Health employees have been terminated for the sole reason of refusing COVID-19 vaccinations?

3. Does the government agree with Queensland's Chief Health Officer and health minister that COVID-19 mandates are no longer necessary, especially considering global workforce shortages?

4. Why have I not received responses to the questions I asked in this chamber on 28 June 2023 regarding SA Health employees forced on paid leave, given that over two months have elapsed?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:57): I am happy in terms of the questions that refer to numbers of employees to refer them to the minister in another place and bring back a reply and also to check on the status of the questions that have previously been asked.

But in terms of most of the other questions, I am quite sure the answer will be because the government, as it did when the previous government was in power during the height of the pandemic and since, tends to rely on the best possible evidence and advice about what is in South Australia's best interests in relation to COVID.