Greenwich urges Labor, Coalition to rethink mandatory blood tests

Greenwich urges Labor, Coalition to rethink mandatory blood tests
Image: L - R: Anna Brown, Alex Greenwich, and Felicity Marlowe. Image: Supplied.

Independent member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, has urged the NSW Opposition and Liberal government to rethink plans to allow police to force people who assault emergency responders to submit to blood tests as Labor continues to double down on introducing a bill on the issue.

Greenwich said that Labor’s policy would result in people being forced to submit to blood tests in circumstances where there was no realistic chance of them transmitting a virus and that it would be marginalised groups who would bare the brunt of the policy.

“This proposal has no basis in medical evidence to back it up and risks vexatious targeting of the LGBTI community and other vulnerable groups,” Greenwich said earlier today.

“The LGBTI community has worked hard in recent years to develop a good working relationship with the police. Given the history of police violence towards us, this hasn’t always been easy, and progress has been hard won.

“This proposal jeopardises not only our relationship with law enforcement, but decades of progress in destigmatising the LGBTI community and winning equality in the eyes of the law. It is fear-mongering, pure and simple.

“I strongly urge my colleagues in Parliament to oppose this dangerous and discriminatory bill.”

Labor Shadow Minister for Health, Ryan Park doubled down on Labor’s policy in a statement earlier today.

“Police officers and our frontline workers, like paramedics, nurses and corrections officers put themselves in harm’s way for us every day,” Minister Park said.

“But it’s not just dangerous situations they enter, our frontline workers are often the targets of violent crimes. Police officers alone are the target of around 50 assaults a week – a number that has remained the same over the last decade.”

“Each year there are too many incidents where a frontline worker – as a result of violence – has been exposed to someone else’s blood and been left waiting months to find out if they have contracted a blood-borne virus.”

“That’s because there is currently no law in NSW to make a person who has assaulted, and exchanged blood with a frontline worker submit to a blood test. There is in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.”

“That’s why Labor announced we would introduce a new law to make someone who has assaulted a frontline worker, and importantly only where there is a real risk that blood has been exchanged to submit to a blood test.”

“The only people targeted by this law are people who assault our police, paramedics, nurses and corrections officers.”

“This isn’t the first time this has been raised, two years ago a Parliamentary Committee on Law and Safety recommended legislation to change the law to take care of frontline workers, followed shortly thereafter by an options paper.”

“However, since then, the Berejiklian Liberal Government has done nothing about it.”

“Rapid testing exists for a range of conditions, a simple blood-prick can ease months of anxiety. If we’re able to find a way to give a similar peace of mind to those on our frontline then we are all for that. As we said, they put themselves in harm’s way for us every day, the very least government can do is give them some certainty over the risks they face.”

“NSW already has laws that force people involved in car accidents to submit to blood tests, but nothing for frontline workers. That’s why Labor will work over the coming months to develop legislation with relevant stakeholders that balances the need to protect our frontline workers and respect privacy.”

No one in Australia has contracted HIV in an occupational setting like the bill’s advocates have described in the last 17 years.

The Star Observer understands that this policy has the backing of the Health Services Union, the Public Services Association, the NSW Police Association and the Fire Brigade Employees Union – but no group that has expertise around blood borne viruses or HIV supports the policy.

2GB radio personality Ray Hadley and NSW Police Association president Tony King have repeatedly made claims around this issue to suggest that HIV or Hepatitis could be spread via biting or saliva or by a parent showing normal parental affection to their child.

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