Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie says people should be held accountable for their choices as she slams One Nation over its bill attempting to stop governments from "discriminating" against the unvaccinated.
One Nation's Pauline Hanson introduced the bill in the Senate on Monday which would prohibit the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, councils and private businesses from giving different rights to the vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated.
Senator Lambie strongly objected to the bill, which she said was "hypocrisy" from One Nation due to its past attempts to discriminate against same-sex attracted people, people from Muslim-majority countries and children with autism in schools.
She said the vaccination requirements were not "discrimination".
"If you're able to be vaccinated, and you choose not to, 'discrimination' is the wrong word. That's not discrimination. You have freedom to make a choice, but if you make a choice, those choices have consequences," senator Lambie said.
"You are not being discriminated against. You choose to do something that puts other people's lives at risk and you will be held accountable for that choice. It is that simple.
"You're making a choice that means you're more likely to get COVID, and you're more likely to spread it to someone else. And that is your choice, it is your right, I want to make that clear, and I support that choice. But you don't get to decide how the rest of Australia responds to that choice."
She raised concerns about Tasmanian business owners who had autoimmune conditions, and said that they had the right to prevent unvaccinated people from entering their premises and putting them at greater risk of COVID-19.
Tasmania has vaccination mandates for workers in health, aged care and disability, and is considering mandates for further public sector workforces. Businesses must also complete risk assessments - based on Occupational Health and Safety laws - to determine which of their staff would require vaccination.
About 500 people attended a protest in front of Parliament House in Hobart on Saturday to argue against vaccination mandates. One Nation's Tasmanian Senate candidate Steve Mav attended.
Senator Lambie said getting vaccinated was about "putting others before yourself", and mandates were required to protect the vulnerable.
"We don't have lockdowns and border restrictions because state premiers love discrimination, that's rubbish. We have them because state premiers don't want people dying, because they don't want to be playing Russian Roulette with their own people's lives," she said.
"One Nation is the champion for the right of the unvaccinated COVID-carrying mainlanders to come to Tasmania and create an outbreak.
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"It's not going to happen under my watch, and I doubt very much that it's going to happen under Premier Gutwein's watch.
"We're not going to stand for it."
Senator Hanson has threatened to withhold votes on government legislation, along with Queensland Liberal National senators Gerard Rennick and Matt Canavan.
She said her bill was about supporting "Australian democracy and freedom".
Abetz abstains from vote
Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz abstained from the vote, despite saying he was "overwhelmingly sympathetic" to the bill and had been consistently opposed to vaccine passports and mandates.
He said he abstained because while he supported it in principle, it was "clumsy", "unlawful" and "unconstitutional".
"If vaccination works, then we who are vaccinated have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated," senator Abetz said.
"The thought of a two-tiered society - the vaxxed and the unvaxxed - is to split and divide our community which is to weaken it.
"My view has consistently been that we should educate, not discriminate. We should convince, not coerce.
"The Bill before the Senate would seek to over-ride the States and stop funding to them if they mandate in any circumstance. Its constitutionality is highly questionable and the consequences highly disruptive. It would see the GST arrangements ripped up."
Fellow Liberal senators Gerard Rennick and Alex Antic have threatened to vote against government bills unless the government stepped in to give the unvaccinated "protection from discrimination".
Senator Abetz said he would not be taking the same course of action.
"I share their heartfelt concerns," he said.
"However, withholding votes whilst drawing attention to the issue of concern will potentially see excellent legislation being defeated. Each Bill should be judged on its merits and I will continue to do so."
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