Liberal senator Gerard Rennick to withhold vote in protest against Covid vaccine mandates | Australian politics



Queensland senator Gerard Rennick will withhold his vote from the Coalition until the government stops supporting vaccine mandates and provides immediate assistance to people who have suffered adverse affects from Covid-19 vaccines.According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the protective benefits of Covid vaccines “far outweigh the potential risks of vaccination”, and serious side effects are “very rare”.Rennick has been highlighting cases of adverse effects over the past fortnight and he wrote to the prime minister, Scott Morrison, on Sunday advising he would withhold his vote in the Senate over the issue.The Liberal senator is calling for the government to scrap vaccine mandates and indemnities for the states, and improve the compensation scheme for adverse events. He also says children should be excluded from any mandates and that the “tyranny” of domestic travel restrictions should end.“No person in this country should be forced to lose their job because they don’t want to take a Covid vaccine,” Rennick says in the letter.He says a “fit and proper” compensation scheme for victims of adverse effects is needed, calling for the scrapping of the $5,000 cost threshold and for payments to begin immediately.“Many victims have been unable to work and are facing economic as well as health issues as a result of an adverse event from the vaccine,” he claims.“Victims should not have to wait until next year to receive compensation and income support.”He also suggests that people who have had an adverse event for a first dose have been unable to refuse a second dose, calling the scenario “completely inhumane”.In the letter, Rennick says the federal government is indirectly supporting vaccine mandates imposed by states and private employers by providing the indemnity scheme.“If as you say that the commonwealth doesn’t support mandatory vaccinations, then why are we paying for and indemnifying vaccines being mandated by the state?”Rennick has previously urged the government to support a fresh high court challenge against border closures, and told the Coalition party room last month he was considering withdrawing his vote.Quick GuideHow to get the latest news from Guardian AustraliaShowPhotograph: Tim Robberts/Stone RFThank you for your feedback.Parliament is scheduled to sit for one more fortnight this year, with several pieces of legislation still on the Coalition’s agenda for this term of government.This includes a bill to establish a federal integrity commission, a promised religious discrimination act, new cyber security laws, and controversial voter ID laws.The Coalition holds 36 of 76 Senate positions and needs three members of the Senate crossbench to pass legislation.If the government loses the support of Rennick in the Senate, it will need four of the five crossbench votes to pass legislation against opposition from Labor and the Greens.Rennick told Guardian Australia he would be contacting relevant ministers to argue his position, and said ending the indemnity scheme for vaccine mandates was among his “non-negotiable” demands.“I want this resolved, and we have got three weeks to sort this out,” Rennick said.The TGA says vaccination against Covid is “the most effective way to reduce deaths and severe illness from infection”.“Like all medicines, Covid-19 vaccines may have some side effects (also known as adverse events). The overwhelming majority of these side effects are mild and resolve within a few days.”As of 24 October 2021, about 34.3m Covid vaccine doses had been given in Australia, with 2.2 adverse events reported per 1,000 doses. There have been nine deaths linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Australia has recorded more than 170,000 Covid cases with 1,734 deaths, and 1,064 people currently hospitalised.



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