24 May 2021

Barr open to vaccine passports, but what would it look like for Canberrans?

| Dominic Giannini
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Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he was open to the idea of vaccine passports. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Vaccination passports could give Canberrans who had received the jab more freedom to travel interstate despite lockdowns and outbreaks, as well as attend large events, but while Chief Minister Andrew Barr is open to the concept he wants to see more details.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the plan last week, saying it was the “next most achievable step” with borders being closed until at least mid-next year according to the government’s budget projections.

The freedoms that vaccinated Australians would experience could also be used as a trial for when international borders reopen and unlock quarantine-free international travel.

The IATA, the trade association for 290 airlines worldwide, has been in discussions with Australian agencies about a mobile travel pass for travellers who have been vaccinated.

Qantas has reportedly trialled the pass along with a similar product called CommonPass.

But Mr Barr said that while it was a proposition that looked good, he wouldn’t base his position on what the Prime Minister said at a press conference.

“I would want to see a fully formed proposal come forward, not something that has been thrown out at a press conference that is a bit of a thought bubble,” he said.

Any proposal would need to flesh out what the passport would enable you to do and how long it would be valid for.

READ ALSO Rex takes on Qantas with $69 fare to Melbourne

There remained the caveat that vaccinated people may not be protected against transmitting the virus.

Mr Barr said if a vaccinated person ended up becoming a super spreader and seeded the virus to unvaccinated people, it would undo all the hard work the country had done in the past year.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has rejected the notion that Australia should have internal borders at all and has previously expressed her frustration at her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk for closing the NSW-Queensland border when hotspots and outbreaks arise in Sydney.

Mr Barr said that while NSW would not dictate the ACT’s position, the stance of other states – including Queensland and Victoria – would weigh on the decision due to Australia’s eastern seaboard states being primary travel destinations.

Mr Barr also said it was a “massive national failure” that the Commonwealth had not built more quarantine facilities like Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.

Such facilities could allow more Australians to return to the country and reduce the risk of the virus escaping as it has from hotel quarantine.

While such a facility in theory could be built on Commonwealth land near Canberra Airport, the ACT would be the “eighth on the list” of jurisdictions that could house a viable quarantine facility, Mr Barr said.

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Wondering now why Canada has banned Astrazeneca? Lol to those who panicked and rushed off to get it here

“vaccinated people may not be protected against transmitting the virus”

Glad this point at least got a mention in the article. It’s been missing in most of the discussion on vaccinations and borders I’ve seen in the media.

The COVID vaccines stop you getting as sick if you happen to get infected; its effectiveness in preventing infection is still debatable. If we can get most of the population vaccinated, this will allow us to open the borders because even if there is an outbreak the cases will be milder and it won’t result in a surge in hospitalisations and deaths. With less than five percent of the population vaccinated in Australia, we have a long way to go before we’re even talking about that.

Vaccine passports for individuals are simply pointless if vaccination doesn’t significantly prevent spread.

Capital Retro8:08 am 27 May 21

It’s great to see RiotACT’s self appointed experts on all things debating about the ramifications of the constitution on this topic.

Thanks chewy14 and JC, it doesn’t get much better that this.

Capital Retro,
In surprised you haven’t blamed this issue on renewable energy yet.

Surprised you haven’t thrown your two bobs worth in. Oh that’s right you just did.

And further to what I just wrote, given how we are not shaking hands or hugging friens anymore, will we also feel obliged to see their vaccination certificate/passport before visiting or letting people through our front door? Wecome to the state and territory of paranoia.

Capital Retro8:09 am 27 May 21

Even the Greens have stopped hugging trees!

I read that the Greens are now into culling kangaroos. The hypocrisy of the Greens is matched only by the naivety of their (former) tree hugging supporters.

“There remained the caveat that vaccinated people may not be protected against transmitting the virus.” I have an International Vaccination passport with lots of stamps but it was always used as a personal record of vaccinations and never had to be shown on entry to other countries or on return to Australia. The problem with a domestic vaccination passport is that it is ineffective because it doesn’t stop transmission of a virus and introduces a false sence of security. As well, it will be abused by organisations. Do you want to have to show it each time you enter a shop, a school, a bus, an office….. And what about those of us who have had severe allergic reactions to a past vaccine and are relectant to put our lives at risk? Are we to be excluded from this new Orwellian society, as it strips away freedoms bit by panicked bit?

I care about my health. Hence i’m really fit, don’t smoke, hardly drink and carry no weight whatdoever.

I look around and see thousands of very well fed Canberrans. Don’t they believe the #science about obesity?

A very well known French epidemiologist and no el prize winner has said this vaccination program is a mistake. Is he a conspiracy theorist?

And I’m old enough to remember that it was a “conspiracy theory” 12 months ago that covid may have leaked from a lab.

The vaccines are experimental and currently the subject of an emergency use authorization.

Spend less time on getting your information from American sites on American situations. Your tinfoil hat is showing.

TGA have no “Emergency use authorization” (authorisation in this part of the world buddy) the vaccines went through the normal processes with the only difference being rolling data was made available earlier on.

If you really want to go down the typical boomer conspiracy rabbit hole – Perhaps think for a moment. What would the government(s) prefer? That if the vaccine was to kill or maim, what group would that be happening to? The ones that follow recommendations from the government and generally play along aka ‘sheeple’. What group would they be left with afterwards? The nut jobs that think everything is a conspiracy and are generally uncooperative to anything more freedom infringing than being told to wear a seatbelt.

Doesn’t sound like a super good plan for government domination, kill all the cooperative people and leave the ones that cause trouble. Maybe they’re just cooking up covid.V2 for release soon to sweep around to clear up the ‘enlightened’ who didn’t get vaccinated and leave the sheeple. 😉

No vaccine passports enough.

And why do those who are vaccinated care so much about those who are not? You’re protected right?

You asked, “why do those who are vaccinated care so much about those who are not?”

Because if all people who can be vaccinated, are vaccinated it will assist to protect the few who genuinely can’t be vaccinated. It also reduces the chances of new variant strains. But you would know all this. Those who selfishly and moronically continue to ignore all this put other people at risk, and continue to live in a fantasy conspiracy world and refuse to get vaccinated. They don’t care if people continue to suffer and die from Covid. You really don’t care, or you wouldn’t have asked that question. People refusing to get vaccinated slows the return to a more normal life. There’s no problem with a vaccine ‘passport’; we’ve had them in the past; I still have mine and have used it when travelling. No big deal. Get vaccinated and you will be able to travel too. Don’t get vaccinated and you can’t travel. Your problem; not other people.

If your haven’t been vaccinated, get over yourself, stop being so selfish, and get vaccinated. There’s more to a community, that just you.

Oh, and it isn’t just another flu, for you information, and you won’t have a chip implanted. And you won’t be able to pick up G5 mobile in your arm.

We are supposed to have free and informed consent for medical procedures. Have a think about what you’re saying and how that reflects back on the ability for individuals to make free choices for their own health.

I’m personally going to get vaccinated when I’m able to, but things like “vaccine passports” are a slippery slope to even more restrictive controls forced on the population.

We should be using carrots, not sticks.

So called “vaccine passports” have existed before and no one appeared to worry about them. I have an International Certificate of Vaccine/Certificats Internationaux de Vaccination. It isn’t a scary thing (I’m holding mine in my hand at this moment), so don’t shake with anti-vaxer ill informed horror. People have had them for a long time. It is to protect the population against ill informed people who don’t care about others and their rights. The argument about so called ‘rights’ is the same argument used by the guns lobby in the USA. Not surprising really, a lot of the anti-vaxers ill informed nonsense comes from the US, and they are often the same people.
You are free not to have a vaccine; no-one is taking that away from you, but that has consequences. If proof of vaccine becomes mandatory for travel on planes, etc, or to cross state borders, it is you free choice not to be vaccinated and as a consequence to have your travel restricted. Try getting across the WA border (and other fruit borders) now with a car load of fruit (freedom to take your own food with you) and you will be refused entry. It’s to protect food growing areas from diseases. Not being allowed across a border (if this were to happen) without a vaccine is to protect vulnerable people from disease, in this case Covid.
Your choice not to get a vaccine, but don’t be so selfish then to expect no consequences, as the vulnerable also need protection, from you.

Spelling mistake: That’s vaccine, not vaxine.

We have never had a vaccine passport to travel within Australia, this would be a first and clearly has major implications for the belief that we are meant to be a single country.

As each country is free to determine their own laws, Vaccine passports for international travel make perfect sense and so negates your point about it being done before. It hasn’t.

“You are free not to have a vaccine; no-one is taking that away from you, but that has consequences.”

As above, re read what you just wrote and then examine how that fits in with a model of free and informed consent for medical procedures. Carrying fruit across a border is not remotely comparable.

And I think it’s mighty ironic to talk about selfishness whilst demanding everyone else do what you want them to or be punished.

Reread what I wrote…how do you think I found that spelling mistake. And there’s a least one other. I am not saying you must be vaccinated, although you are a moron not to be, and selfish, putting those, who genuinely can’t be vaccinated, at risk by making it harder to reach herd immunity. And you and others like you who have been on too many US conspiracy sites are increasing the risk of having to need a proof of vaccine document in Australia. Ironic that last bit.

Conspiracy sites?

Despute your protestations, you clearly are having trouble reading what has actually been written.

From my first comment:

“I’m personally going to get vaccinated when I’m able to, but things like “vaccine passports” are a slippery slope to even more restrictive controls forced on the population.”

I must be a pretty woeful anti vaxxer or conspiracy nut if I’m going to get vacinnated as soon as it’s available to me.

Perhaps you can now address what has actually been written now?

We have never had a vaccine passport for internal Australian travel.

It is completely against a model of free and informed consent for medical procedures to force people to become vaccinated on the threat of punishment in Australia. We should instead look at incentives rather than punishments.

It is a slippery slope to go down that path for health matters and sets a dangerous precedent that you clearly haven’t thought through.

Then when you get vaccinated you will have no trouble travelling. For the very few who can’t be vaccinated because of real medical reasons, hopefully there will be a way to address that issue. However, if people are catching buses, trains and planes, that is likely up to the companies to make their rules, similar to how shops have the right at present to ban entry for anyone not wearing a mask, if that is their rules.
As for needing to prove vaccination in Australia, I have no problem with this.

Once again none of that addresses the specific issues of forcing people to get Vaccinated on threat of punishment which is what the discussion point is.

It wouldn’t affect me because I’ll be vaccinated but because I’m not selfish and can see the significant downsides to compulsion in this area, I believe we should focus on rewards, not punishments.

Just because you think this specific act of compulsion won’t affect you doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Getting a document that shows you are vaccinated, will get rewards. Easier travel is one.

Maya, that’s some real high quality spin.

We already have free travel within Australia as a right. Stealing something off me and then claiming that giving it back is a reward is about as ridiculous as it gets.

Do you believe getting a tax cut is a gift from the government as well?

Although your last comment probably does explain your thoughts on this issue and how much you are happy with the government being fully control of every aspect of your life.

Chewy we don’t have free right of travel enshrined in any legislation federal or state. So not taking away something you have.

Sections 92 and 117 of the Constitution provide that right which may only be restricted on reasonable grounds for the protection of a state.

I do not believe that forcing people to carry vaccination passports would (or should) qualify. Particularly when as the science shows, Vaccination is only mildly protective from the spread of the virus.

There is also international human rights that follow the same intent.

We are supposed to be one country.

Chewy that’s not correct.

Section 92 is about customs and duties and section 117 is about making rules that discriminate on the basis of residence.

If you want to stretch things you could argue that preventing travel is against section 117, but good luck taking that interpretation to the high court.

My point remains there is no law that allows absolute freedom of travel interstate or for that matter internationally.

As for my own opinion I have never agreed with blanket state border closures, I think what happens now where localised areas are banned is the better way. But we all know that border closures, state and international are more about politics as any state leader or the PM would be politically crucified If there were outbreaks on their watch. When in reality it is now time we lived with this fact as we cannot remain closed forever.

JC, saying “we don’t have the right of free travel enshrined in any legislation … so not taking away something you have” is wrong because our common rights exist in fact, not by legislation. The right to walk in the sun, the right to swim in the ocean, the right to go for a coffee at a cafe, the right to travel …… These inherited rights are assured and owned by all of us. Only the worst of communist dictatorships removed the travel rights of their crushed, cowed and muted citizens. You are endorsing dictatorship by defending actions that strip away our civil liberties. Read JS Mill’s On Liberty.

Section 92 is about free and open trade and commerce between states. Are you honestly trying to say that travel between states is not a part of open trade?

And section 117 is about not discriminating people in law because of the state they are from. Travel between states clearly is included.

The government is also signatory to numerous agreements in this space that provide for freedom of movement.

As well as what Acton has said below.

Acton I’m not endorsing anything. Just stating the facts that there is no enshrined right of travel between states or for that internationally.

You and chewy are clutching at straws with your arguments. As I said to chewy you seriously believe the constitution or some other international agreements Australia are signatory’s to gives you that then please go ahead and put your money where your mouth is and take it to the high court. I’m willing to bet you will loose.

As I’ve said, we can’t control other countries laws, so international restrictions are far easier justifiable and irrelevant to this discussion.

But you clearly are ignoring the point and what I’ve written.

With regards to the constitutional and international agreements, the right of freedom of travel clearly exists. You’ve provided zero evidence whatsoever to refute it.

I’ve also said that the one of the only things that could restrict that right is the protection of a state from significant harm (in this case, public health).

So that is where the argument lies, where does the line sit?

As above, in my opinion a vaccine passport in this instance does not qualify and is a breach of agreed human rights. The vaccine only provides mild protection against infection spread and most people will be freely vaccinated. The risk is tiny, so why should we override the individual choice for a free choice of medical treatment in this one area?

If you are OK in overriding this free choice in one area, how long before it gets applied to many other areas?

Hmmm, but i suppose you want to ignore the precedent.

I think it is you who has provided zero evidence to support your claims. And in fact what you have provided has nothing what so ever to do with freedom of travel unless you are drawing a really long bow.

Besides in times of crisis like was or pandemic it’s all bets off and about what is best for the country.

I’ve literally provided you the sections of the Constitution that provide us the rights of freedom of movement as well as the international agreements we’ve signed up to that provide the same.

You still have not provided anything.

If you want more, the law reform commission looked at the issue as part of a wider review 5 years ago:


You can pretend to ignore the facts all you want but it doesnt change them.

Although your exact attitude of “all bets are off” because of COVID is the exact thing I’m arguing against. The idea that rights should be so easily tossed aside or traded for the illusion of safety is a path to the end of our free and open democracy.

HiddenDragon6:36 pm 24 May 21

“There remained the caveat that vaccinated people may not be protected against transmitting the virus.

Mr Barr said if a vaccinated person ended up becoming a super spreader and seeded the virus to unvaccinated people, it would undo all the hard work the country had done in the past year.”

This is the crucial point, and in light of the statistics on transmission reduction arising from vaccination contained in Woody Brenden’s comment at 12.01pm, an internal vaccine passport could entail a very large increase in risk compared to what our political class, based on “medical advice”, has told us is acceptable for the last year.

The other interesting aspect of this proposal for Canberrans – living as we do in a city which only exists due to federation – is the extent to which it will add to the already potent centrifugal forces which have been unleashed by the way in which the virus has been handled in Australia.

Tom Worthington4:55 pm 24 May 21

The World Health Organization’s International Certificate of Vaccination would be a good model for a vaccine passport. This doesn’t say what you are permitted to do, or how long for. It just records when you were vaccinated and what with. It is up to the jurisdiction where you are seeking entry to decide to admit you, or not. There are various proposals for electronic vaccination certificates. In theory internally this could use existing government online vaccination records, but they were never developed for this purpose. I low tech option would be a small sticker with a QR code on it. When scanned, this would bring up a web page showing your details. It could be stuck into a passport, on a drivers licence, or other identity document. This would give citizens a reason to get vaccinated, which is currently lacking. https://blog.tomw.net.au/2021/05/improving-australian-federal-act-covid.html

The Constitution of Australia permits free travel to all citizens within Australia. International law does not allow governments to force citizens to be subjected to medical tests and drugs (or to apply penalties if they don’t take medical drugs). Clear breaches of human rights and claims will be lodged with the UN. Nice try though Barr (black sheep)

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