Thousands of Australians across two protests have rallied against the vaccine mandates and the extended emergency COVID-19 powers in Brisbane with several parliamentarians joining the protests.
Demonstrators gathered outside the state Parliament House on Tuesday, chanting “block the bill,” “my body, my choice” and “end the segregation.” They demanded the government to drop the controversial bill to extend COVID-19 emergency measures from April 30 to Oct. 31 since September 2021.
Outgoing federal Coalition backbencher George Christensen joined the crowd on Wednesday, while One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson and KAP leader Robbie Katter, a state MP, are also taking to the street this week.
Christensen told Courier Mail on March. 15 that the mandates are “nonsensical now” and that the protest are joined by many people who “have been vaccinated, but are opposed to the mandates because someone they know is out of a job.”
Queensland authorities has announced it would review COVID-19 restrictions on a weekly basis, despite Australia having opened its international borders last month and the state scrapping its mask rule two weeks ago.
The emergency powers will allow the authority to impose compulsory quarantining, movement restrictions, gathering limits, social distancing and the sharing of confidential information for contact tracing.
The bill has faced criticism from the Human Rights Commission, which recommends the bill not proceed and be replaced with comprehensive human rights compatible pandemic legislation.
Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall blasted the Palaszcuk government at a parliamentary committee on Monday.
“As a community, we have learnt about the impacts of quarantining conditions on people’s mental health, the human rights limitations arising from public health directions that confine people to their homes and the mandating of vaccines,” McDougall wrote in a 12-page submission to the committee.
McDougall noted that without proper oversight, transparency and external review, the government cannot be granted the power to impose “such significant human rights limitations.”
In response to the public’s outcry, the state government has stood by its decision, with Health Minister Yvette D’Ath arguing the bill is crucial to protect the state from any emerging COVID-19 strains – despite declining case numbers.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was worried that unvaccinated people could transmit the virus to the elderly who have made up most of the state’s COVID-19 cases, despite growing evidence showing the vaccine does not help prevent transmission.
“I don’t think anyone likes to see these vaccination mandates out there,” Palaszczuk said. “But the reality is we still need to drive up that vaccination rate and we need to protect the community… I don’t know what’s around the corner.”
The authority has also been pushing to drive up the vaccination rate in children as the state recorded 43 percent first-dose rate in children, the lowest among all Australian states and territories.
A parliamentary committee that looks at the bill to extend health chief powers is due to report on March 25, one day before the public health emergency declaration is set to end.
Source: The Epochtimes