Vaccination Passports Are Coming
How will they work and are they legal? The Australian Federal Government intends to implement vaccination certificates or ‘vaccination passports’ as a requirement for international travel.
The ‘vaccine passport’ proposal is not new. Its implementation is a component of 'phase four’ of the Federal Government’s plan to re-open international borders. Many countries have implemented similar schemes in recent times. Britain, the United States and Canada now require proof of vaccination or a negative test result in order for travelers to avoid mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival.
In recent weeks, Qantas has confirmed it is rolling out digital health passes for international flights, which will confirm passengers have clearance to fly.
Vaccine passports - what’s happening in other countries?
Britain is one country that has extended the requirement of vaccination certificates to include attendance at large-scale events. In France, controversial laws are currently before Parliament to make Covid passports mandatory for people to attend shopping centres, cafes, restaurants and cinemas, to visit tourist attractions, or travel on public transport. There are hefty penalties including fines and jail time for individuals and businesses that fail to comply.
In Australia, the Government is debating whether or not to make the Covid passports a requirement for domestic travel too. But there are concerns, as with aspects of the French model, that this kind of lawmaking begins to infringe on individual freedoms, privacy and other human rights and basic principles of democracy.
Encouraging vaccination rates to increase
There is no doubt that if vaccination passports are required for domestic travel, the mandate would accelerate vaccine rates, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to be at 80% of the general population notwithstanding the slow rollout of vaccines and limited availability of vaccines across the nation.
Making certificates mandatory for domestic activities has the potential to discriminate against Australians, on the basis of their willingness, or not, to be vaccinated. There are other issues of concern too, such as cyber security. For several years now, tech experts have warned that we have a shortage of skills in this particular area, and for governments that means possibly putting citizen data at risk.
As Governments around the world introduce tough vaccination policies as a way out of the pandemic, the trade in counterfeit Covid certificates is potentially going to boom. Earlier this year Europol warned that fraudsters had been caught selling counterfeit documents in the UK for up to $200.
While our Federal Government is still working through exactly how the certificates will work, be legislated and administered, the ultimate plan is that they will be linked to MyGov accounts. They will then be able to be printed out or put into a digital wallet on people’s smartphones.
Dividing the population: vaccinated versus unvaccinated
The pandemic has opened the eyes of many Australians just how powerful some of our laws are in over-ruling rights and freedoms we have previously taken for granted. The simple fact of the matter is that in a public health crisis such as Covid-19, Governments at both a Federal and State level can, as we have seen, under emergency legislation, force people to stay at home, to avoid socialising, to minimise their trips to supermarkets … and the list goes on.
While it’s unlikely that vaccines will be completely mandated in Australia, meaning that people will still have the ‘option’ to get the jab, there are several experienced legal specialists and constitutional rights specialists who say that the Governments can, through legislation, make life difficult for people who choose not to be vaccinated.
Andrew Williams is an experienced criminal and traffic lawyer with offices in Perth and Fremantle. If you have been charged with an offence of that nature, contact us for expert legal advice without delay on (08) 9278 2575.
PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.