Jacqui Lambie slams Pauline Hanson's claim vaccine mandates amount to 'discrimination'

Five Coalition senators crossed the floor to back legislation put forward by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson trying to ban mandatory vaccinations.

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie speaks against One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hansons vaccine discrimination bill in the Senate.

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie speaks against One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hansons vaccine discrimination bill in the Senate. Source: AAP

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has fiercely attacked One Nation's push to remove vaccine mandates, blasting the party's claim people who are unvaccinated are discriminated against.

Five Coalition senators crossed the floor to back legislation put forward by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson on Monday attempting to ban mandatory vaccination rules, which was ultimately defeated.  

But in a fiery rebuke to Senator Hanson's bill, Senator Lambie accused One Nation of seeking to "profit" from discrimination and using fear to boost its election campaign.

Jacqui Lambie savages Pauline Hanson's vaccine mandates claims

"It's all about cash, it's all about power - it's all about One Nation seats," she told the Senate.

“If you want to champion against discrimination, you don’t want One Nation."

Senator Lambie speaks in the Senate chamber.
Source: AAP

Senator Lambie said she does not support forcing people to be vaccinated, but did not support the bill because the decision to not get vaccinated was not "consequence-free".

"Being held accountable for your own actions isn't called discrimination - it is called being a bloody adult," she said.

"You have the freedom to make a choice, but those choices have consequences."

Addressing parliament by video link, Senator Hanson said vaccine mandates had unleashed a "pandemic of discrimination" as she tried to talk up vaccination side effects and unproven COVID-19 treatments. 

The concerns raised in the bill relate to state-based vaccine mandates that require proof of vaccination for certain jobs and to attend venues such as cafes, restaurants and bars. 

Senator Hanson took aim at state premiers for introducing mandates, saying her bill was about ensuring people's "rights and freedoms". 

"This prime minister has done nothing to prevent this pandemic of discrimination," she told the Senate. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison later said his government opposed the bill but defended Coalition senators who had supported the move. 

"The Liberal Party and the National Party, we do not run it as an autocracy," he told reporters.

"We don't take people out of our party if we happen to disagree on an issue they feel strongly."

Coalition senators Gerard Rennick, Alex Antic, Matt Canavan, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Sam McMahon had supported One Nation’s bill, defying the government's vote.

Senator Canavan described the vaccine mandates as "unfair, cruel, unnecessary and unAustralian". 

"You should not need to undergo a medical procedure to earn a living," he told the Senate.

"What the hell happened to 'my body, my choice'?" 

The government's legislative agenda is facing a potential roadblock in the Senate, with Senators Rennick and Antic saying they will withhold their votes over their vaccine mandate concerns.

Senator Hanson had also promised to cause "mayhem" for the government over the issue.

Senator Rennick said while many jurisdictions had implemented mandates, he wanted the commonwealth to overrule states and territories.

"Where there is a risk there must be choice," he told the Senate. 

The senator called for the government's indemnity scheme to be expanded and said people who listened to the government had been scorned. 

"To those of you who say I should not be holding the parliament to ransom, I say this: politicians should not be holding people to ransom," he said.

Labor Senator Kristina Kenneally earlier also launched a scathing rebuke, saying the government had "dog whistled to extremists" for even allowing the bill to be debated.

"The prime minister is pandering to these extremist elements," she told the Senate.

"Australians are not being discriminated against and coerced, it is their choice whether or not to be vaccinated."

Senator Kenneally says Labor supports vaccine mandates when they are guided by public health advice.

Mr Morrison said the government supported mandatory vaccines for health, aged care and disability workers where they are "working with vulnerable people", but not more broadly.

"When it comes to what happens in somebody's business, we believe [a] business should make that decision and shouldn't be told by the government what they should be doing," he told Question Time.

With additional reporting by AAP


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Published 22 November 2021 at 3:21pm, updated 22 November 2021 at 6:01pm
By Tom Stayner
Source: SBS News