What’s Next? The End of Emergency Declaration’s and General Worker Mandates

COVID-19 Restrictions
What’s Next? The End of Emergency Declaration’s and General Worker Mandates

An undeniable shift has occurred in this short week between public holidays. Multiple jurisdictions are indicating sweeping changes to critical Covid-19 infrastructure by way of proposed endings to emergency decelerations or revocations of longstanding workforce vaccine mandates.

South Australia and NSW appear to be leading the charge, being the two jurisdictions indicating the biggest changes, however even more ‘hard-line’ states such as Victoria are beginning to stir as shown with easing of the ‘vaccinated economy’ provisions. Whilst we acknowledge that this all part of welcome changes and certainly a step towards an authentic return to ‘normalcy’, the spirit of these human rights infringements is now being proposed to live on under new guises.

The state government position on this transition period that is seeing mandates ease, is one of encouraging subsidiary government regulatory bodies and stakeholders as well as private companies, to continue to enforce the mandates as they were by adopting their own internal interim policies.

On such example is South Australia Health, who in anticipation of their jurisdictions declaration of major emergency ceasing, proposed an interim policy that would simply extend these onerous conditions into the foreseeable future. The inherent risk is these policies may be even more loosely regulated than the previous government mandates that paved the way for their existence. The same fundamental human rights are being derogated, only now; the state government can ‘pass the torch’ to other bodies and in the process shed any scrutiny just in time for upcoming elections. There is no doubt this approach will be reflected in other jurisdictions that begin to transition out of states of emergency and mandates.

Without a significant risk to the ‘life of the nation’ and subsequent state of emergency, it becomes much harder for the government to impinge human rights. Our nation is a signatory to various international treaties and charters that suggest the focus now should be to restore human rights to their normal level, prior to the pandemic. Instead, they have simply handballed the dirty work to subsidiaries in the form of ‘policy’.

Ultimately, these polices need to be reviewed, consulted on, and thoroughly examined for compliance with fundamental human rights and legal defensibility. Complacency in this critical time will only allow further human rights transgressions to occur, albeit by a different hand.

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