24/11/2021 - 14:06

McGowan confident as vaccine deadline looms

24/11/2021 - 14:06

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The looming vaccination deadline for some of the state’s most critical industries will not exacerbate current labour shortages, Premier Mark McGowan claims.

McGowan confident as vaccine deadline looms
Mr McGowan said he was confident the industry would manage and employees would “see sense”. Photo: David Henry

The looming vaccination deadline for some of the state’s most critical industries is not expected to exacerbate current labour shortages, with Premier Mark McGowan confident people would "see sense".

In October, the state government implemented a three-tiered mandatory vaccination policy covering 75 per cent of the state’s workforce, the first phase of which requires workers in resources, health care, cross-border transport and emergency services to have had their first jab by next week.

Employees in other industries, including supermarkets, hospitality, education and construction, have been given until January 31, 2022 to be fully vaccinated.

Since then, the state’s vaccination rate has continued to climb, with 85.3 per cent of those aged 12 and over having received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73.4 per cent fully vaccinated.

The latest figures show 120,000 Western Australians have received their first dose in the four weeks since the state released its reopening plan.

It also means WA remains on track to reach its Safe Transition Plan target of 90 per cent double dose vaccinated by early next year, allowing for the reopening of state and international borders.

Several industries have reported grappling with significant labour shortages, including mining, transport and construction, with unemployment in WA hitting 3.9 per cent in September - its lowest level in nine years.

Despite several companies in the resources sector raising concerns about the impact mandatory vaccination may have industries already grappling with labour shortages, Mr McGowan said he was confident the industry would manage and employees would “see sense”.

“The resources industry is very resourceful and I’m sure they will manage these things well,” he said.

“I would just say to anyone who works in resources that you have a great job, a great career, you have a great future, just get vaccinated and you’ll make yourself safer and healthier and you’ll avoid losing your position.

“Overwhelmingly, and I mean overwhelmingly, the industry is supportive of what we’ve done.

“Over the past two years we managed to keep COVID out of the industry, despite everything going on across the country and around the world.

“We kept it [the mining sector] open and operating and it delivered enormous revenue to the commonwealth government and the state and kept everyone employed.

“We want that to continue and the way to do that is to have the workforce vaccinated.

“As the deadline approaches, people see sense and they get vaccinated.

“They will continue to be employed and, in due course, they’ll wonder what all of the fuss was about.”

Mr McGowan made the comments during a press conference this morning to unveil the state government’s latest vaccination campaign, with a three-week Summer Vax Drive to begin this weekend.

The drive will comprise pop-up clinics at Woolworths and Aldi supermarkets across metropolitan and regional WA, as well as at matches at Optus Stadium.

In addition, the state government is establishing the COVID-19 Vaccine Community Funding Program to boost the uptake of the vaccine in priority groups, including Aboriginal communities.

Mr McGowan pushed for the momentum to continue, warning that the consequences of complacency would be dire.

“When the virus reaches Australia, it will find those unvaccinated,” he said.

“That’s what we’re seeing in other states and other countries around the world.”

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