Prime Minister Hon. James Marape stated in Parliament today that vaccination is “not mandatory” for the people of Papua New Guinea.
He said this in response to a petition to Government yesterday calling for no vaccination, no mandatory vaccination and for the Pandemic Act to be done away with.
A debate then ensued with most MPs, including those in Opposition, supporting and commending PM Marape for the way he was handling COVID-19.
PM Marape also stated that the “no jab, no job” policy of the private sector was not one of his Government.
“I want to make it clear again that vaccination is not mandatory in our country,” he said.
“How many times will we stand here and repeat that vaccination is not mandatory?”
“We have not made vaccination mandatory since Day 1.
“I want to tell everyone in the country: Do not listen to misinformation that vaccination is mandatory, in as far as Government policy is concerned.
“We respect our people’s right to freedom of choice, especially when it comes to sensitive matters like this.”
PM Marape said vaccination was mandatory in other countries, such as Fiji, where over 80 per cent of people had been vaccinated and was now opening up to the world.
“We have not made vaccination mandatory, but we have made vaccination available to whoever wants to receive it,” he said.
“That policy still stands, so what some people are saying that vaccination is mandatory is not true.”
PM Marape said the Government was closely monitoring yesterday’s protest march to find out who was behind it.
He said Parliamentary standing orders do not allow for Parliament to respond to ultimatums given by protestors, like yesterday’s organisers, who gave 48 hours for Government to respond.
PM Marape said hid response was made to clarify confusion and misinformation.
Whilst making response on the 'no jab, no job' and vaccination issues , PM Marape said leaders of these groups are most welcome to go to National Control Centre (NCC) "to get to know what exactly we are doing for in as far as COVID-19 fight is concerned going forward" .
PM Marape said Police could have not allowed yesterday’s protest to go ahead, “ because we have to be aware that such crowd gatherings allow the spread of COVID-19”.
He said the protest was led by a few prominent NGOs who had a long association with politicians, and suggested that instead of such, they could give their suggestions to the NCC which was open 24/7.
PM Marape said while his Government supported work place safety, the “no jab, no job” policy was one of the private sector.
“However, we now have a new work place protocol,” he said.
“If there was no pandemic Act, the Controller would not have the power to do this.
“Under this new protocol, regular testing of employees would be amongst new measures to allow for those who do not want to vaccinated to be at work unless they are COVID-19 positive."