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Sloppy thinking about vaccine mandates

August 13, 2021 - 15:17 -- Admin

Michelle Grattan has an uncharacteristically sloppy piece in The Conversation about vaccine mandates. It reads as if she’s chatted to some people in the government,then phoned in an article reflecting their confused position. Among the most notable failings

First after mentioning the decision by canning company SPC to require vaccination for its employees, she says, of other firms that might follow suit:

But the legal position is unclear. In the absence of a public health order, they would be relying on directions to employees being judged lawful and reasonable. Inevitably there would be court challenges

Grattan ignores the point raised by SPC, that if an employee caught the virus at worked and died, the directors would be open to criminal prosecution for manslaughter. On the face of it, that’s a bigger problem than an unfair dismissal action, and a fairly conclusive defence for any company imposing a mandate (other than on remote workers). Maybe there’s a counterpoint, but Grattan (in common with a fair bit of commentary that seems to be based on info from the same sources)ignores it.

Then she says

It is not as simple as “no jab no pay” for the vaccination of children, which only denies government benefits. In the COVID case we’re talking, in the extreme, about people’s access to jobs and livelihoods.

She appears not to have kept up with the shift to “no jab no play” laws which excludes unvaccinated children from kindergarten

Grattan concludes that “Incentives may be helpful, although they shouldn’t be as expensive or extensive as Anthony Albanese’s $300 for everyone vaccinated.” No basis is given for this judgement. If we accept estimates that the Sydney lockdown is costing $1 billion a week, Albanese’s policy would only need to save six weeks of lockdown in one big state to be justified. Again, there may be an argument but “that’s what people in the government are saying” isn’t one.

As I said at the start, Grattan is usually better than this. Let’s hope for quick return to form.