The weekend featured a train wreck press conference for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
Snippets of the conference have been circling on social media with a mixture of shock and bewilderment.
“When we do open up at 70% double-dose, anyone who interacts with each other will be completely vaccinated,” said Berejiklian, in one of the viral clips. “So, that massively reduces the chance of anyone requiring hospitalisation.”
Openly encouraging state-sanctioned segregation based upon private medical records marks a new low of Australia.
There was no detail on how the premier intended to prevent the vaccinated and unvaccinated mixing in their private lives.
Previous legal protections for citizens against the overreach of government have been overridden by a combination of state emergency legislation and applications of Covid health orders under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (successor to the Quarantine Act of 1908).
Legal challenges to health orders are popping up across Australia as rights continue to be withheld by premiers.
“I certainly hope that all of you are vaccinated. I wouldn’t want to be in a room with lots of people who aren’t vaccinated,” the premier joked.
While Australia is (mostly) no longer chasing Covid-Zero, its premiers continue to enforce travel bans, state border closures, lockdowns, curfews, facial recognition software for quarantine, mandatory vaccination requirements, and the introduction of vaccine passports.
“I think I’ve talked about my aspirational dream of us being the most vaccinated country,” said Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant. “We’ve always got choices, and for me the choice is follow the public health orders and get vaccinated.”
It is true that vaccination rates in New South Wales are currently at record levels, but the premier and chief health officer failed to mention that this was only achieved after residents were put into a punitive lockdown.
‘No jab, no job’ has seen employees threatened, bullied, and coerced by their employers – operating under instructions from the state. Those who refuse to comply and receive a Covid vaccination are fired, undermining Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s promise that vaccination would remain a ‘free choice’.
Social media is full of stories from Australians complaining that they have been forced to take the Covid vaccine under duress from their employer. Most have done so because they would be unable to support their family.
“Obviously as workplaces open up, every workplace will have their policies according to what the government’s indicating,” said Berejiklian. “70% enjoy the benefits of being fully vaccinated. They will get to move forward with more freedom than we have today.”
It was only a few months ago in July that Prime Minister Scott Morrison assured Australians that the nation would not adopt vaccine passports and that there would be no segregation or discrimination.
Today, the message could not be clearer; there will be two classes of Australian citizen with a different set of rights. The unvaccinated will be held as virtual prisoners, unable to work, travel, shop, or socialise.
“Don’t be left behind when we start opening up, because when we open up at 70% double-dose it will only be for those who are vaccinated.” Gladys Berejiklian insisted, proudly. “Those things that we’ve all missed will only be available for those who are vaccinated. I don’t want to put a date on it at the moment – we’re still working on the detail.”
Not a single journalist in attendance asked if this was a violation of basic human rights.
Vaccine passports, which have been a source of mass protests around the world, were originally denied by Australian politicians. Gladys Berejiklian has since whole-heartedly embraced the ‘papers please’ model.
“I just want to make this point very clear. If people want to enjoy the things that we’ve missed such as a meal or any other issue or any other venue – they’re going to have to be vaccinated. The system NSW is developing means that anytime you check-in to a restaurant with your QR code that will automatically blip that you have already been vaccinated. That will show your vaccination status and your check-in capacity in the one app.”
The system of express segregation is expected to roll out before Christmas. Service NSW is currently developing the app which will combine the check-in QR system with a person’s vaccination status from Medicare.
Chant supported the measures, which will begin with manual checks by mid-September.
“People will not be able to gather outdoors – not even for a picnic – without police checking their vaccination status,” said Chant.
Places of worship will also require vaccine passports.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro confused the discussion by claiming that there would be no vaccine passports in September.
“At no point did we say that there would be a vaccination passport for what other freedoms we have been given on September 13. Police will be – you still have to prove your vaccination, but it’s not the vaccination passport that we’re doing the work-through for at Service NSW,” said Barilaro, describing a manual vaccine passport.
“So, you’ll have the ability to download your app from Medicare – immunisation records – on your myGov app. That’s the proof. You’ve got to be able to prove that you’re vaccinated. That’s actually part of the conditions of having those freedoms that you’ve got to be able to prove that you’re vaccinated if you’re pulled up by police. Let’s not confuse the issue here.”
Barilaro was further questioned by the press about his opinion on curfews after he publicly disagreed with Berejiklian on their effectiveness.
He told reporters that ‘curfews don’t work’ adding, “I am going to say that and I can get away with saying that.”
“Curfews play a role in compliance,” Barilaro attempted to explain his comments. “Compliance was the issue that was problematic and that’s why the police and health officials put that [curfews] forward.”
Greater Sydney has been under a curfew since August 23 – to no effect. Berejiklian had also previously ruled out curfews, but very few political promises have been kept after health advice changed.
Chant confirmed that there is no end in sight, saying that, “We are going to be in a cycle of being vaccinated into the future. There will be updated recommendations.”
Craig Kelly has voiced his horror at the abuse of civil, human, and Constitutional rights in Australia – demanding that premiers restore basic freedoms and desist from their campaign of segregation and discrimination.
Berejiklian is not the only state premier pursuing segregation as a tool against Covid. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews embraced the idea in a clip that has since gone viral around the world due to its totalitarian content.
"To protect the health system we've got everybody locked down. We're going to move to a situation where, to protect the health system, we're going to lock out people who are not vaccinated that can be," said Daniel Andrews.
"If you're making the choice not to get vaccinated then you're making the wrong choice. You're making the wrong choice. And, for safety's sake and - back to that point about how much work our nurses have to do - as this becomes absolutely a pandemic of the unvaccinated. It's not going to be safe for people who are unvaccinated to be roaming around the place spreading the virus. That's what they'll be doing.
"So there's every reason - every reason - to get vaccinated. [...] But yes, there's going to be a vaccinated economy and you get to participate in that if you are vaccinated."