Flat White

Every industry has its own safety responsibilities, so why the fuss over jabs?

12 August 2021

7:08 PM

12 August 2021

7:08 PM

My kids’ grandparents all had small scars on their upper arms from compulsory vaccinations. They were delighted to receive them so that they could start new lives with almost unbelievable personal freedoms in Australia after World War II. It was no controversy, just a matter of fact that I learnt of from curiosity about the pockmarks.   

Later on, as a young forester, I was involved in implementing new Occupational Health and Safety Regulations about 40 years ago. Timber workers on crown lands were compelled to use safety gear, now known as PPE – personal protective equipment. The key items at the time were hard hats, earmuffs and boots. It was part of my job to ensure compliance in the bush. 

Two incidents stick in my mind.  

Jim was a returned soldier who’d been given a licence to cut sleepers when he was demobbed after the war. He regarded any instruction about which trees, where and how he could cut and process them as an infringement of his personal freedom and rights as a returned serviceman.  


When I told Jim that he was required to use PPE, he blew up. He roared, got red in the face and swore at me. After questioning my ancestry, Jim started drawing laboured breaths and enquired as to who would look after his wife and family after he succumbed to a heart attack consequent to my unjustified hounding of an honest working man. It wasn’t long before Jimmy retired. 

Col operated a crawler tractor, snigging logs for the local sawmills and the peeler mill over the range. When I told him the new rules he arced up as well. After snubbing me at the local pub for a month or so, Colly approached me one evening and informed me that he was sleeping better and not suffering ringing in the ears and headaches as much as he had thanks to earmuffs. We remained good mates until I left town. 

The debate about vaccinations has me flummoxed.

It’s crystal clear that employers have a responsibility to ensure that any employees dealing with the public are vaccinated. Employees who do not wish to be vaccinated have the choice to resign and seek alternative employment. Other individuals are obviously free to take their chances. 

The idea that governments should spend millions of dollars bribing individuals to get vaccinated is insane.   

Vic Jurskis is a former senior NSW Forestry Commission professional forester. In 2004 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Joseph William Gottstein Memorial Trust to investigate eucalypt decline across Australia. He has published two books, Firestick Ecology, and The Great Koala Scamboth available from Connor Court.

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