Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace won’t rule out a mandatory CCP virus vaccination program for school students, teachers and staff but said it would be an issue for the national cabinet and Australia’s federal government.
“We would look at what is available and what the national cabinet would do in line with the federal government,” Grace told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday (pdf).
She added: “Everything is on the table.”
Grace’s remarks came in response to questions by Liberal National Party MP Christian Rowan, who had also asked the education department’s director-general, Tony Cook, about the department’s vaccination plan for students, teachers, and school staff.
Cook said the issue was a “bit hypothetical” until a vaccine for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus (novel coronavirus) is available.
“Once the vaccine is available, if there are issues in relation to that, it is something the department will have to look at,” Cook said. “Part of that is: is the vaccine available next year? Is the vaccine available in whatever particular period? But that is a matter we would look into if that is an issue that arises at the time.”
Grace stressed that a mandatory vaccine program would be a joint decision by governments around the country, but Queensland would abide by it.
“I am sure the department will enact whatever decision is made,” she told the hearing. “The national cabinet will probably drive a lot of that decision-making about vaccination and compulsion to do so.”
Meanwhile, Cook revealed the department had installed a “COVID officer” in every region to work with their regional health services. The department also deep cleaned 11 schools.
“That was done immediately within 24 hours to enable schools to be reopened,” he said.
The department spent an extra $22.3 million on school cleaning bills during the pandemic, which Grace said was a ten percent rise overall and a 20 percent rise in special schools.
An extra $52.1 million was spent in other areas of the education budget to deal with the impact of the pandemic.