This week the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk finally removed vaccine mandates from pubs, hotels, cafes and related venues. This is great relief to thousands of Queenslanders who have lost their jobs because of these mandates.
Many people in Central Queensland attended rallies and protests against them. I was with them from the get go, fighting against these cruel and ineffective laws. The removal of the mandates is a win, albeit a belated one, for all of those who lawfully expressed their opposition.
In announcing the change on twitter, the Premier claimed that her "COVID measures have achieved their purpose: slowing the spread of the virus." The Premier either thinks we are fools or she is a fool for being ignorant of the data.
Labor's vaccine mandates came into effect on 17 December 2021, making a dire Christmas for many of those impacted. Before the vaccine mandates, Queensland recorded 2258 cases, after the mandates we have recorded over 800,000 cases. Claiming that vaccine mandates "worked to stop the spread" is like claiming that Will Smith was a dignified and respectful guest at the Oscars last week.
All these mandates have done is to exacerbate the workforce shortages that are hurting many small businesses. And, they have made life tough for pubs, clubs and cafes due to reduced turnover. As many publicans raised with me in the last few months, it was not just the unvaccinated that were not coming out for a drink or a meal.
What would often happen is that if there were 1 unvaccinated person among a group of 10 who wanted to go to the pub, then they would all just meet at someone's house instead, where no restrictions applied. The local pub would miss out on the 10 customers not just the one unvaccinated.
While removal of the mandates comes as some relief, vaccine restrictions will still remain in schools, hospitals and aged and disability care. Last year I felt there could be some merit in erring on the side of caution and having some restrictions in the health sector. But the evidence is now clearly in. The UK has removed all mandates including for health workers. Right now in Queensland you are much more likely to have a poor health outcome thanks to a lack of doctors and nurses not because of transmission from the unvaccinated.
We should remove all the mandates so we can have a doctor or nurse to care for us.
As for schools, coronavirus is spreading quicker through them than Pokemon cards. South Australia has just removed their mandates on schools and we should do the same.
The timing of the Premier's announcement is interesting. Last week Labor pushed through legislation extending the date of their emergency COVID powers despite opposition from the LNP, other parties and the Queensland Human Rights Commissioner. There is a question on whether the Premier delayed her announcement on mandates so as not to jeopardise the passing of her emergency legislation.
Meanwhile agricultural shows have been cancelled across our region while the uncertainty around vaccine mandates meant they could not go ahead. The Queensland Government should compensate these show societies for another year without show revenues.
There are many upset that the Federal Government did not do more to try to end these mandates earlier. I voted in the Federal Parliament to end them but it is the case that public health matters are primarily for state governments.
In any case, the Prime Minister has always publicly opposed the Queensland Government mandates while Anthony Albanese has expressed support for them.
The Federal election will be about lots of things. But if Anthony Albanese is elected it will be viewed as a mandate for mandates, potentially extending the mandates we have left for longer.
If you are against the mandates, the main thing is to put the parties that support them - like Labor - last.