Australian Coalition MP George Christensen has said that he will not vote with the government on any bills or motions in the House of Representatives until the federal government acts to stop the states and companies from discriminating against “non-vaccinated” people.
“Earlier today, I informed Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce (and the Nationals Party Room of which I am a member) that, unless we act to stop state governments and private corporations from discriminating against non-vaccinated Australians when it comes to either employment or clientele, then I intend to not be beholden to party room discipline when voting in the House of Representatives,” Christensen wrote in his Nation First newsletter on Monday.
“To be clear, until federal action is taken against vaccine discrimination, I will be voting according to my conscience (or abstaining from votes) on bills and substantive motions rather than just voting with the government as MPs usually do.”
The conservative politician from Queensland said that he would continue to support the government by voting on confidence and supply as well as procedural motions—”except if they relate to ending vaccine discrimination.”
But he would not guarantee his support on bills or substantive motions until action is taken to stop “vaccine discrimination.”
Christensen wrote that he had “no doubt” his stance would result in personal attacks on himself, but for him that paled in comparison to the, “prospect of ending the tyranny, the discrimination, the segregation, the job losses and the negative business impacts that are all being wrought (or are about to be wrought) on my fellow Australians,” he wrote.
This comes after five Coalition senators crossed the floor on Monday to vote in favour of a private member’s Bill calling for an end to vaccine mandates in the country, despite the majority of their party room colleagues voting against it
One Nation Party Senator Pauline Hanson introduced the COVID-19 Vaccination Status (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill 2021 on Nov. 22.
She told parliament the Senate was responsible for protecting the rights of individuals, noting that, “This is a pandemic of discrimination.”
“You might not agree with the choices that people make, but that doesn’t mean the right to choose should be stolen from them,” she told sitting MPs.
She accused state leaders of “relishing” their power to “command and control the people they are supposed to serve.”
“They’re desperate to keep this power for as long as they can. They have ignored the prime minister’s national plan and the decision of National Cabinet,” she said.
Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie lambasted the Bill, saying unvaccinated individuals were not discriminated against and were choosing to place the lives of others at risk.
“You have the right to choose. You don’t have the right to put vulnerable people’s lives at risk. You don’t have that right, and so you shouldn’t have that right,” she said.
Last week, South Australian Liberal Senator Alex Antic joined his colleague Queensland Senator Gerard Rennick in pledging to withhold their vote over vaccine mandates and concerns around the safety of the inoculation.
“Australians deserve the freedom to choose their own medical treatment and way of life,” Antic wrote on his Facebook page on Nov. 12.
“It is not reasonable for Australians to be discriminated against based on their decision to submit (or otherwise) to a medical procedure,” he added.
Soon after, Prime Minister Scott Morrison began speaking out against vaccine mandates, bringing the issue to the centre stage of federal politics.
“We’re not in favour of mandatory vaccines imposed by the government. Businesses can make their own choices under the law, but we’re not about telling them what to do or telling Australians what to do,” he told reporters.
Daniel Teng contributed to this report.