The Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business says businesses across the state face a COVID D days both today and tomorrow as the next stage of the Government’s vaccine mandates kick in, with business left to manage the cost and issues of compliance.
“Today exclusions from certain businesses start to apply to unvaccinated people, and business has to manage that with no obvious support from the Government” Dr Thomas said. “Tomorrow morning those workers in industries covered by the Government’s vaccine mandate who refuse to provide proof that they have complied are supposed to be refused entry to their workplaces.
This applies to around 75% of Western Australian workers”.
“However, the McGowan Government’s monitoring and compliance is a farce, and the reality is the many unvaccinated people will be going to work and trying to visit business premises tomorrow in flagrant disregard of the Government’s rules, which has been left to business to police themselves!”
“This lack of management is compounding the lack of clarity and certainty business is already struggling with as the Government flip flops on the rules and trickles out changes at the Premier’s whim” Dr Thomas said. ‘While big business might be able to opt out of the state and go east, small businesses have no choice but to stay and try to navigate the Government’s rules.”
Dr Thomas congratulated the high level of vaccine compliance in many areas, especially health workers, but said that the Government’s abandonment of compliance enforcement meant many businesses doing the right thing were being punished and some of those doing the wrong thing were being rewarded.
“I have been informed of businesses that are enforcing the vaccine mandate that are losing staff to other businesses who are not” Dr Thomas said. “I have had business owners suggest to me they would not comply because they could not afford to lose the staff.”
“In a time of extreme labour shortage the loss of staff is tragic, but to lose staff to non-compliant businesses is a disgrace!”
Dr Thomas’s questions in Parliament have forced the Government to disclose that compliance with vaccine mandates is the responsibility of the Department of Health, and that 59 staff members of the Department have been empowered for the purpose.
“The Premier and Health Minister need to disclose how many businesses have been checked for compliance to date, given most WA workers were required to have had their first vaccine dose a month ago” Dr Thomas said. “How many checks will the Government do in February?”
“They must also then outline how they will protect compliant WA businesses from those who are going to flout the rules, and how they will support and protect the businesses they have forced to become the COVID police.”
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