Defence Minister Peter Dutton doesn’t want people who refuse a COVID-19 jab segregated from society amid accusations the government is undermining the vaccine rollout.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire for calling for the scrapping of Queensland’s vaccine mandate when the state reaches 80 per cent jab coverage.
Mr Dutton stresses the proportion of people declining to get the jab is small and they need to be allowed to participate in society.
“You cannot segregate a part of the community even if you disagree with the decision they’ve made,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.
“At some stage … you’ve got to allow people to come back into society.
“You want them to be vaccinated, but there’s a small portion who will make a decision not to be.”
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles accused the coalition of picking a fight with Labor states.
“This undermines the vaccine rollout that is going on in WA and Queensland,” he said.
Mr Marles pointed out NSW also had restrictions on what unvaccinated people could do.
“The prime minister wasn’t saying this in respect of NSW,” he said.
The proportion of Australians worried about being infected is at its highest point since the start of the pandemic.
The Australian National University has found 40 per cent of people think they would likely contract the virus in the next six months.
The previous high of 39.5 per cent was recorded during the first weeks of the initial COVID-19 lockdown last year.
In April this year, about one-in-10 people worried they would become infected. The findings were based on a survey of nearly 3500 adults.
“This is a huge jump and shows that even though the vast majority of adult Australians are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, many of us think it is inevitable we will get the disease at some point in time,” study co-author Nicholas Biddle said.
While the majority of people thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them, 45 per cent believed the worst was yet to come.
People were also increasingly experiencing severe psychological distress, with the rate jumping from 10.6 to 12.5 per cent between April 2020 and October this year.
But fewer people were facing major financial stress because of the pandemic.
Nationally, about 84 per cent of the 16-plus population is double-dosed and 91 per cent are partially protected.
Victoria has lifted almost all restrictions for the fully vaccinated as the state verges on a 90 per cent double-dose rate for people aged 12 and older.
Northern Territory officials have confirmed a woman who illegally entered the Top End last month sparked an outbreak infecting 19 Indigenous people so far.
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