Jase: Joining me in the studio is our federal member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster, good morning to you
Dr Webster: Good morning.
Jase: How are you? Good my goodness hasn’t the hasn’t Facebook fired up overnight over the ‘sign the petition against mandatory vaccinations’, which is very much about civil liberties? And a lot of people saying that, while you’re promoting anti-vaxers – couldn’t be further from the truth,
Dr Webster: Like absolutely not. And I’ve made it really clear for 18 months that I’m totally supportive, I’ve been double vaxed, you know, this is the way out of this pandemic, as well as all the other measures that Mr. Andrews is going to keep on us to keep us safe. And, you know, under the name of ‘keeping us safe’, there have become less and less rights for people and the right to choose about vaccination is something that is deeply personal. I don’t have to make a judgement on whether people do or don’t want to. Correct information is critical. And there’s a lot of misinformation out there, which I wish wasn’t. I wish 100% of people got vaccinated because it’s for all of our good, but making people get vaccinated or lose their job. No, no, it’s a step too far.
Jase: Now no Vax, no job. The first thing I thought when I saw this come through last Friday and bear with me while I get through this, Daniel Andrews has just said basically to the community, to small business who – small business have been absolutely polarised over the last 18 months. So many skilled workers out there in this region who may not feel comfortable about getting the jab at this point of time. So what Dan’s gonna do is he’s gonna take those workers and they’re gonna say over you the over there you anti vaxxers. and business owners who have those skilled workers now have to replace them. And how hard is it in local business? And I’ve said it the whole time. Daniel Andrews, he’s out of touch with small business, he has been forever. That’s my perception. And I think what he’s doing is punishing those business owners who have done the right thing and got vaccinated.
Dr Webster: Absolutely. And, you know, yes, we are in a pandemic, yes, it’s awful. Yes, it’s a killer disease. I don’t deny any of that. But to take people’s right choose to take their liberties away. And to refuse people the right to live in the democracy that we proudly call Australia is not okay, on any level and you’re right: small businesses, not only will they lose workers, they also have to enforce this ruling order. So they have to make sure that people are showing their vaccinated certificates, etc. Now, I have to say, a proviso. I’ve had some nurses, say hare dare I. In the health care profession, I have absolutely supported mandatory vaccinations. That’s what they have to do anyway, if you want to work as a nurse or a doctor, you’ve got to have evidence of your Hep-Bs and your you know, various inoculations in order to work in that field. This is not new. So the healthcare system already accepts that as part of their job, a condition if you like of working in that workspace, to make farmers to make people who work in a piggery, you know, and the various other people have to have a job or lose their job is it’s a fundamental breach of our right. Our rights.
Jase: Yeah, as you said, civil liberties. And the question I have is if this boundary’s been breached, Now, where does Where are we moving forward in the future?
Dr Webster: Yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly right. Look, I’ve had some people here write to me and say, Are you are just seeking votes? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I’ve lost votes. And you know what, that’s okay. It’s okay with me, because this is an issue of principle. And if I’m not here to stand on principle, then I shouldn’t be here. People may not agree with me and people may be in fear saying no, no, no, everybody needs to get vaccinated or some people I mean, I’ve had hundreds of emails. At the moment we have over 5000 have signed the petition with many, many, many probably 50% really supportive comments. So I understand this is incredibly polarising. But people have a right to have this discussion, to shut this discussion down and to even as the state member has called me, irresponsible, I don’t think so. This is a democracy. We should be able to have the discussion. I do not support the violence. I do not support the outrageous comments that people make. You know, I am about – let’s live together and not just polarise in two different extremes because that’s how we live our lives now.
Jase: What do you say to what do you say to convince the people on Facebook who are going home Are they quite harsh on you at the moment you say to say, look, it’s okay, it’s a conversation we need to have you accepted their opinions. You don’t necessarily agree with them, but to actually accommodate the fact that you are pro vaccination, you’re not actually saying that it shouldn’t happen.
Dr Webster: No not at all. And as I said, You know, I wish 100% of people were vaccinated, that would be fantastic, it still will mean that we will have COVID in the community, because that’s what happens is we have people coming flying back into Australia, etc. COVID is around and it’s going to be around for a long time that people still should should still be able to choose.
Jase: Can I ask you, what’s the objective of the petition? How many signatures do you need? What’s the momentum moving forward? What’s the objective overall?
Dr Webster: Look, the objective is to garner an understanding of where are people thinking at the moment? And to take that to the step to the premiere, fundamentally. I mean, as a federal politician, obviously there’s people write to me and say, Well, what are you going to do about this? Well, fundamentally, there’s very little I can do about this is, this is actually Ali Cupper’s.
Jase: well. A lot of people are writing to you and saying, You’re stepping over the line, in this case, as well. So it’s either which way is quite popular now. Of course, signing it, you can easily just go to your Facebook page if you want to sign that show, and how many how many signatures so far?
Dr Webster: 5000.
Dr Webster: And that’s under two days.
Jase: Dan Andrews, just to recap on Dan Andrews, not a good direction. What do you think you can overturn this in any in the next week or two? What do you think he’s going to be headstrong about it?
Dr Webster: I think he’s going to be headstrong about it. And, you know, again, my heart goes out to all of the small businesses and how this impacts them. And I really hope people can understand fundamentally that the vaccines are safe, they are effective, and I encourage people if they haven’t had a vaccine now, you know, my husband made a comment to me yesterday that when the ship is when the ship is sinking, you don’t say which lifeboat colour will I go for? You just get in a lifeboat and the vaccines are a lifeboat.
Jase: Dr Webster, wonderful to have you in the studio. We’ll we’ll catch up with you soon. Thank you. Now more than ever, you need