Vaccine Passports to Be Trialled in Regional Victoria

By Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom is an Australian-based reporter covering local Australia news. He has a background in business and healthcare and is currently completing a post graduate law degree. Contact him on henry.jom@epochtimes.com.au.
September 27, 2021 Updated: September 27, 2021

The Victorian Labor Government will begin a series of “vaccinated economy trials” in regional Victoria to determine how vaccine passports could be rolled out across the state.

This comes after the state fell short of the 80 percent single vaccination target set by the Andrews government’s roadmap that would have seen a slight easing of restrictions from Sept. 26.

Speaking to reporters on Sept. 26, Tourism Minister Martin Pakula said from Oct. 11, up to 20 businesses among the highly vaccinated areas of regional Victoria would take part in the vaccine passport trial.

“That’s roughly a fortnight before we anticipate reaching the 70 percent double dose threshold, which at the moment we’re expecting to occur on about the 26th of October,” Pakula said.

“It’s about seeing how our vaccinated economy system might work, and we’ll trial that with higher patron numbers and crowds with everyone on site being confirmed as fully vaccinated.”

The trials will determine what processes will be modelled statewide once the 70 percent target is reached.

But some regional businesses have been left confused over who and what type of businesses could participate. There is also some confusion around how the system would work.

“Whenever they announce something, it would be great to get the detail as soon as possible,” Be Bendigo chief executive officer Dennis Bice told the Herald Sun, adding that “the devil is in the detail.”

According to the government announcement, six municipalities have been selected for the pilot program—Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, Pyrenees, Warrnambool, Buloke and East Gippsland.

Bice said he was excited that Bendigo was part of the government’s program. But he noted that some his the community were nervous about vaccine passports.

“Everyone has an opinion and a point of view on this,” he said.

He added that the chambers of commerce had sought financial incentives for the program so that the program was not an “impost on business,” given the threat of abuse from angry customers.

City of Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said he wanted to see more explicit guidelines.

“How much businesses can increase their patron limits will be the really critical point as to understanding whether it’s worthwhile,” Niemann said.

“Having to check IDs and all that is difficult, and it’ll depend a bit on what sort of support is provided.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said it was “critically important” for businesses to appoint a qualified person to oversee the program.

Support officers will be deployed on the ground to ensure trials run smoothly and participating businesses receive the assistance they need, the state government confirmed.

However, Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser told The Age that requiring people to be fully vaccinated in exchange for work, or access goods and services carried a range of human rights risks leading to serious legal challenges.

At the same time, the “courts generally give a lot of discretion when there’s a public health emergency,” Kretser said.

“It’s possible that someone might want to challenge the public health order, but it would be very hard to be successfully challenged.”

Henry Jom
Henry Jom is an Australian-based reporter covering local Australia news. He has a background in business and healthcare and is currently completing a post graduate law degree. Contact him on henry.jom@epochtimes.com.au.