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New Human Rights Commissioner warns on vaccine mandates

25 November 2021

5:31 PM

25 November 2021

5:31 PM

Further to my piece yesterday about the Federal Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, going missing when requested by the Fair Work Commission to make submissions in the CFMEU’s challenge to BHP’s vaccine mandate, Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay, when asked in an interview on Perth Radio 6PR  about her view on the issue, warned governments needed to “be careful” when imposing broad vaccine mandates across the country.  

While encouraging vaccination, Ms Finlay, recently appointed to the role by Senator Cash, stated that “we also do need to be careful from a human rights perspective, about imposing overly broad vaccine mandates. 

“While on the one hand, governments absolutely can limit rights in order to protect public health, those … always need to be justified, non- discriminatory and proportionate.  

“It is a really fine line. And it’s an important balance to be struck.”  

Ms Finlay also highlighted that while targeted vaccine mandates existed in Australia before the Covid-19 pandemic, entire-population vaccine requirements were uncharted territory. 

“[Mandates] aren’t something that’s entirely new to us. But what’s really important is to make sure that mandates are targeted to risk rather than simply imposed in a blanket way,” she said. 

“You do need to balance out the right of individuals to make their own choices against the broader right to public health.”  

That would seem to form the basis of the opening paragraphs of a submission to the HRC right there.

Declaration of interest: I know Lorraine through mutual friends, and wholeheartedly agree with James Allan on her suitability for the role. As he wrote back on 13 September: 

For once we have what passes for a brave appointment. Finlay will be solar systems better than the other commissioners, many of whom were also appointed by the last eight years of Coalition governments.  Make that galaxies better. Finlay will bring a pro-individual, classical liberal view to the table. We should welcome the fact that someone, somewhere, in the bowels of this pusillanimous ScoMo government seems to have evolved to the stage of possessing a backbone.  

Amen to that! And if further proof is needed of her suitability, here is an example of the reaction to Lorraine’s interview in an effort, it appears, to continue delegitimising her appointment. The title to the story says it all. 

Dr Rocco Loiacono is a senior lecturer at Curtin Law School.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Curtin University. 

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