Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has reaffirmed the Morrison government’s position against vaccine mandates, saying his government has always said vaccination needs to be voluntary.

The remarks come following several key senators threatening to abstain from voting for the government’s religious freedom legislation, unless Prime Minister Scott Morrison opposes state and territory vaccine mandates.

Senators Gerard Rennick and Alex Antic have made their position clear, saying vaccine mandates are cruel and unnecessary.

One Nation Pauline Hanson has made it clear, amid a private meeting with the Prime Minister last Thursday, to also withhold her vote unless she is allowed to overturn vaccine mandates.

The backlash is threatening to derail the Morrison government’s agenda during the final two weeks of parliament.

“We obviously see the great benefits of people getting vaccinated, and we’ve seen that in a reduction in the transmissibility of the virus and the number of people getting seriously ill,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News Australia.

“It’s to all Australians credit that the vaccination rate double dose has tipped over 85 per cent and those jurisdictions where there have been extended lockdowns – like NSW, Victoria and the ACT – it’s been even higher.”

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