About 50 Queensland police and staff have submitted their battle over a Covid-19 vaccine mandate to the Industrial Relations Commission, claiming the directive is invalid.
More than 55 police and staff members have been suspended for failing to comply with Commissioner Katarina Carroll’s directive for 17,200 in the force to have punches.
In September, Ms. Carroll’s employees will receive at least one vaccination by October 4 and a second dose by January 24.
But attorney Thomas Allan – who represents 39 officers and 10 staff – told the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on Thursday that Ms Carroll failed to honor the certified agreements and relevant attribution, failed to consult on the directive and made a directive beyond her powers.
More than 55 police and staff members have been suspended for failing to comply with Commissioner Katarina Carroll’s directive for 17,200 in power to have punches (pictured, officers at an environmental protest in Brisbane in October)
Three of the applicants testified on Thursday at the Industrial Relations Commission hearing, which was attended by about 50 people.
The court also heard from Deputy Commissioner Douglas Smith, who said consultations before the directive was issued included a meeting with five unions on Sept. 1.
The police commissioner’s legal representative, James Murdoch, QC, said at the hearing it would be “stupidity” to suggest that the organization could consult thousands of employees individually, or without unions.
Asked if there has been an increase in the number of staff concerned about their well-being since the directive, Mr Smith said a number of well-being issues had been raised during the exemption process.
Legal representatives in that case will debate in a two-day hearing next week whether the court has jurisdiction over mandatory vaccines (pictured, a woman being vaccinated in Brisbane)
Mr. Murdoch also called the specialist infectious disease physician, Dr. Andrew Redmond, who said vaccination was intended to prevent the acquisition of a disease or the development of a severe manifestation of the disease.
The Queensland Police Union has joined the government to respond to the action by the officers and staff, which has raised more than $122,000 in support through crowdfunding.
“We are not for or against the vaccine – this is not a pro or anti-vaccine issue,” says a GoFundMe page.
“The question is whether our employers can allow civil service on behalf of the government and disrupt the relationship between a patient and their doctor by prescribing a vaccine.”
Ms Carroll previously said any staff member who failed to meet the deadline would be suspended with pay for a week and then asked why they would not be suspended without pay.
At the direction of the police, waivers may be granted for health or religious reasons or in exceptional circumstances.
Police said they are working through internal records to identify members who have not received at least one COVID-19 vaccination and do not have an approved exemption.
On Wednesday, the 36 officers and 24 personnel were suspended, but since then an officer and a staff member had followed the instruction and their suspension was lifted, a spokesman said.
In September, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll (pictured), led by staff, has at least one vaccination by October 4 and a second dose by January 24.
A total of 438 employees had yet to officially record their vaccination in line with the commissioner’s instructions.
“The majority of them are out of the workplace for a variety of reasons, including maternity leave, pre-retirement leave and leave due to medical problems,” the spokesperson told AAP on Thursday.
It appeared that there had been no significant change in layoff rates, with police unable to provide specific numbers of members who had quit due to the vaccine mandate.
The Industrial Relations Commission’s bid is separate from a Supreme Court challenge involving police and health professionals.
Legal representatives in that case will debate in a two-day hearing next week whether the court has jurisdiction over mandatory vaccines.
Officers behind the legal challenge are fighting a direction that they say “impairs, affects or removes their fundamental common law rights.”
During a review in the Brisbane Supreme Court earlier this week, Judge Jean Dalton extended a mandate suspension for those employees who are applicants in the proceedings.
The Commission’s full bank is expected to make a decision within a week.