Scott Morrison has railed against Covid vaccine mandates a year after saying he wanted the jab to be ‘as mandatory as you can possibly make it.’
The Prime Minister said anti-vaxxers should not be demonised for ‘making their own choices’.
He made the comments in a TV interview after former NSW premier Bob Carr called for anti-vaxxers to be stripped of their Medicare reimbursements if they need Covid treatment.
Scott Morrison has railed against Covid vaccine mandates a year after saying he wanted the jab to be ‘as mandatory as you can possibly make it’
Protesters participate in a ‘Reclaim The Line’ rally against vaccination mandates along the Parramatta River in Sydney on Sunday
‘We don’t have a mandatory vaccine policy as a Federal Government. It’s not something we’ve done we respect people’s choices, Mr Morrison told Seven’s Sunrise on Thursday morning.
A total of 81.5 per cent of Aussies over 16 are fully vaccinated and 89.7 per cent have had at least one dose.
Several states such as NSW and Victoria have mandated vaccines for entry to retail and hospitality venues while others including WA require vaccinations for entry to the state.
‘Of course we want people to get vaccinated and they have been getting vaccinated under these policies, the Prime Minister said.
‘We live in a country where we are not going to go around demonising those who want to make their own choices. It think thanks very important. That’s not how my Government sees it.
‘Of course we want people to get vaccinated but we are not going to take that heavy-handed approach which the Labor party always seems to like doing whether it’s Bob Carr or many of the others who have come down with those types of views.
‘It’s not our approach’.
Mr Carr, the former NSW premier who led a Labor government from 1995 to 2005, said Australia should follow Singapore which announced it will stop paying coronavirus medical bills of those who are unvaccinated by choice from next month.
In a Tweet after the announcement, Mr Carr wrote: ‘Follow Singapore and legislate no medical or hospital expenses to be reimbursed to people who are not vaccinated without medical justification and then contract Covid. You ignored warnings and got the disease. You pay for your wilful stupidity, not the rest of us.’
Former NSW premier Bob Carr and wife Helena arrive at the memorial service for former prime minister Bob Hawke at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney in June 2019
Bob Carr wants ‘stupid’ people who refuse a Covid-19 vaccine to pay for their own medical care if they get sick from the disease
The Tweet immediately sparked outrage and condemnation from Twitter users and prominent doctors, who baulked at the idea that Medicare would be suspended based on a medical or lifestyle choice.
‘Covid has had some bad takes, but this is right up there. Unbelievable,’ wrote Greg Dore, a UNSW infectious diseases expert.
Others compared the idea to suspending funded care for cancer patients who smoked, diabetes patients who ate too much sugar or motorcyclists who suffered head injuries.
‘I’m double-vaxxed, but I’m not comfortable with the precedent that would set. Does that mean we should refuse medical care to smokers or overweight people? Or someone getting an injury playing sport? If I don’t look where I’m walking and fall over, should I be refused treatment,’ one commenter wrote.
‘No way Bob. Diabetes is a far bigger problem caused by lifestyle issues. Would you also refuse to treat people with diabetes who eat Pizza,’ another said.
La Trobe University mathematician Dr Joel Miller said the policy would only make Covid outbreaks worse.
‘Predictable outcome: People who aren’t vaccinated don’t seek testing or treatment. Consequence: a higher proportion of cases becoming severe, and more transmission,’ he wrote.
Only a tiny number of commenters agreed with Mr Carr.
‘Yes. A Medicare levy for the unvaxxed. They should pay a bit more for their riskier lifestyle. There is one for not having private health cover, so why not,’ wrote one.
The Tweet immediately sparked outrage and condemnation from Twitter users and prominent doctors
Only a tiny number of commenters agreed with Mr Carr’s controversial opinion
Singapore made its announcement on Tuesday as a fierce outbreak puts the city-state’s healthcare system under strain.
It comes after Queensland introduced plans to exclude unvaccinated people from venues when the state reaches 80 per cent fully vaccinated.
The prime minister said immunisation rates continue to grow at a rapid pace.
‘NSW is now 90 per cent double-dose, Victoria will soon be there and we have other states that have had less Covid now 80 per cent… when it comes to their first dose,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘We will hit 90 per cent first dose this weekend for the whole country and we got there because we trusted Australians.’
‘We live in a country where we are not going to go around demonising those who want to make their own choices,’ Mr Morrison told the Seven Network on Thursday
Meanwhile, Australia’s medical regulator granted a provisional determination to Moderna for its vaccine for children between six and 11.
Currently, the Moderna vaccine is eligible only for people 12 and over.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is also examining data from manufacturer Pfizer to approve its vaccine for children.
US regulators have already approved the jab for children.
On Wednesday there were 1,003 new cases in Victoria, with 14 deaths.
NSW registered 216 infections and three fatalities while there were nine cases in the ACT.
There were three cases detected in Queensland, one with no known links on the Gold Coast, while the other was associated with a cluster that started over the NSW border in Moree.