Western Australia: McGowan’s vax mandate dilemma

Western Australia: McGowan’s vax mandate dilemma. By Nathan Hondros.

WA Premier Mark McGowan is on the horns of a particularly grisly dilemma.

On one hand he’s hermetically sealed shut his state with a hard border to the rest of the world  …

At the same time, he’s spent the pandemic feathering his political nest with GST windfalls and mining royalties, while failing to fix a health system he spent five years as opposition leader complaining was broken. Even without a COVID-19 outbreak, emergency patients wait for hours in ambulances outside emergency departments because there are no beds, elective surgery is routinely cancelled and waiting lists have blown out to years.

Add an outbreak to the mix and the health system could quite literally collapse. For WA’s hospitals to be in such crisis would in normal circumstances be a career ending political disaster, let alone during a pandemic.

But the hard border protects both McGowan’s hospital system as well as his popularity.

There is an isolationism inherent in the West Australian character that’s been necessary since the state’s foundation to cope with the tyranny of distance. Most of us can reluctantly deal with not seeing relatives, friends and work colleagues from the east coast in person, because it’s how we live life anyway. The frustration and tragedy caused by McGowan’s hard borders — the funerals missed, the kids with disabilities isolated from their parents, the hard-working Australians imprisoned for falling foul of ridiculous penalties — have not been so frequent they’ve changed public opinion.

This has saved McGowan’s hide.

But big business is coming for him. They’ve had enough of his hard borders. They don’t want to pay the costs of the skills shortage McGowan’s travel restrictions are causing. During the last commodity price boom in the early 2010s, the massive spike in the cost of labour was to at least some extent offset by interstate migration. Now cheap workers are trapped on the other side of a hard border McGowan has made a criminal offence to cross. …

Vaccine mandates are apparently the path of least resistance — or would be if the vaccines worked as advertised, beyond a brief honeymoon period:

Most people want the hard border to stay until vaccination rates are impossibly high. …

As of last Friday, only 58.3 per cent of West Australians were doubled vaxxed. At the current rate of vaccination, we’d be lucky to hit 90 per cent this year.

Enter McGowan’s path of least resistance: mandatory vaccinations.

This week he announced three quarters of WA’s workforce would face a $20,000 fine if they rolled up to work without being double vaxxed. Employers are staring down the barrel of a $100,000 fine for not sacking the unvaxxed. …

Mandatory vaccines are the only way to get vax rates high enough to open the borders fast enough for business. …

But who pays the price of a vaccine mandate? Everyday West Australians and small businesses.

It’s the ordinary people working FIFO, hospitality and retail who will cop it. It doesn’t hit Jutland Parade billionaires or Applecross hedge fund managers.

But it will hit a friend of mine who runs a small business. He employs about five people. The one skilled worker his business can’t survive without, who is so highly trained he can’t be easily replaced, doesn’t want the jab. There’s a skills shortage caused by the hard border. So what does my friend do? If he complies with the law he’ll end up shutting his doors and six people will be out of work. If he doesn’t, he can’t afford to pay the fine.

What do you do if you’re a nurse who doesn’t want to tell the health department you’ve been vaxxed because you take a principled stand on informed consent for medical procedures and patient privacy?

Even with all the time that closing the borders bought WA, opening up to the infection is going to be problematic. But the costs of keeping the border closed are mounting.

Too bad the Feds banned ivermectin. Here is a petition asking the Australian Government to rescind the ivermectin ban.

hat-tip Stephen Neil, Peter G.