By the beginning of next year, thousands of workers in Western Australia’s resources sector will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Premier Mark McGowan of Western Australia announced the sweeping industry mandate on Tuesday, which applies to fly-in-fly-out workers and other staff in exploration, mining, oil and gas, and resource sites.
Mr McGowan said that anyone working in “remote operations” or running vital infrastructures, such as remote train and port control, was also affected.
The rule, he added, applied to all visits to mines, oil and gas facilities, and refineries.
He explained that they must receive their first Covid-19 vaccination before December 1 in order to work, and by January 1 of the following year, they must be completely vaccinated.
In Western Australia, there are around 141,000 people employed in the resources sector.
Mr McGowan based the decision on the “growing crisis” on Australia’s east coast, saying WA was “obliged to do more” to protect people from the virus.
After consulting with the resources sector, unions, and health representatives, he said the vaccination timetable had been set.
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Everingham, told the press that members and employees “supported” the decision.
Mr Everignham said that about 20% of workers had some vaccination concern at first.
That percentage today has dropped below 5%.
He told ABC News Perth Drive that the decision was “inevitable” because “we just can’t impose unwell and unvaccinated people in the regional and remote areas that we operate in.”
He added that Australia is a democratic nation, and you have the freedom to choose whether or not to get vaccinated. However, personal responsibility comes with freedom, and freedom does not grant you the right to inflict your disease on others.
Decisions about mandatory vaccination for any group of workers are made by health authorities and not by individual employers or employer associations.”
At the moment, there are 16 active Covid cases in WA, with four in hotel quarantine and six in hospital, including two people in intensive care.