Think tank wants mandatory vaccines for NSW Public Service

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday August 11, 2021

The elegant nudge of a big green tick.
The elegant nudge of a big green tick. (Services Australia)

The Committee for Sydney is calling for the New South Wales government to mandate COVID-19 jabs across its public service, as part of a plan to support a ‘vaccine passport regime’.

“As the state’s largest employer, NSW should lead from the front and mandate vaccines across its 400,000 workers,” the think tank said in a statement to its members this week.

“If that proves too difficult, at least it should mandate vaccines for public servants who interact with the public, such as those working across the transport network, Service NSW centres and schools.”

Australians can now access proof of their jab on their devices, in the form of a ​​COVID-19 digital certificate. With this in mind — and following the release of modelling showing the vaccination targets behind national cabinet’s plan for reopening the country — the Committee for Sydney has proposed three immediate actions to ensure that a vaccine passport regime is successful. This includes:

  1. Nominating a start date for when vaccine passports will be used for each industry. The committee said this was ‘the most pressing task’, and would help industries prepare their operations, while providing incentive for people to get vaccinated.
  2. Requiring the NSW government workforce to be vaccinated, so it can ‘lead from the front’.
  3. Introducing public health orders that support other employers to require vaccines. The committee said the government could send a strong signal to business by enshrining mandates for public-facing private sector workers to get the jab within its public health orders.

Committee deputy CEO Ehssan Veiszadeh said that while people may have the right not to be vaccinated, they shouldn’t have the right to put others in danger.

“The evidence is clear: unvaccinated people pose a far greater risk to themselves and the wider community,” Veiszadeh said.

“There is no reason why vaccine passports shouldn’t start being used now across industries that are already open, such as in retail settings and essential workplaces. Once we begin to emerge out of restrictions, these can be expanded to gyms, cinemas and tourist attractions.”

Read more: Pezzullo flags digitised passenger document for international arrivals

The committee noted that other countries have successfully implemented vaccine passports. France’s Pass Sanitaire, for example, allows people who have been inoculated to receive a paper vaccination certificate with a QR code that can be read by an app.

“This is allowing vaccinated people to watch a movie, go to a restaurant or bar, or catch a train. It is also allowing international travellers to gain access to France’s tourist attractions,” the committee said.

“That kind of user-friendly model is one we should be following.”

The think tank suggested that the Service NSW app could be used as a vaccine passport, allowing people to check in to venues by scanning the QR code and getting a ‘green tick’.

However, on a national level, the committee noted that a vaccine passport would need to be integrated with successful state-based services ‘to ensure as little friction as possible for citizens’.

“For this to happen, the commonwealth government needs to open up its API to Service NSW and other state-based systems,” it said.

Read more: National cabinet mandates jab for aged care staff


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