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Queensland Court Finds COVID Vaccine Mandate for Police and Ambulance Staff to be Unlawful

The court found that vaccine mandates violated workers’ human rights as they were forced to undergo medical procedures without full consent.

A supreme court in Queensland has ruled that COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by the state government on police officers and ambulance service workers during the pandemic were unlawful under human rights laws.

On Feb. 27, the Brisbane Supreme Court issued rulings on several lawsuits filed by dozens of individuals against the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) over their compulsory vaccine requirements for employees between 2021 and 2022.

During that period, police officers and emergency service workers were required to take COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots or be subject to disciplinary actions from their employers, including being stood down from their positions or getting fired.

The court found that Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll failed to consider staff’s human rights when making decisions in relation to the vaccine mandates.

At the same time, it found that Former Department of Health Director-General Dr. John Wakefield was unable to provide evidence that QAS’s vaccine mandates fell under the terms of employment contracts of ambulance service workers.

While the judges believed the mandates imposed by the two agencies were reasonable given the emergency situation of the pandemic, they found that the directions restricted workers’ human rights as they were forced to undergo medical procedures without full consent.

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As such, the court ruled that the vaccine mandates were unlawful and had no effect.

“I have not held that the QPS Directions and the QAS Direction were invalid, rather I have held that they were unlawful,” said Senior Judge Administrator Glenn Martin in his ruling.

“As each direction has been revoked, the remedies available are confined.”

Nevertheless, the judge acknowledged that it was a challenge for the two government agencies to balance the need to prevent their employees from contracting the disease and uphold human rights during the pandemic.

“The balance between the importance of the purpose of the limitation, and the importance of preserving the human right … is complicated by the fact that these directions were given in what was, by any measure, an emergency,” he said.

The rulings did not include judgements on the transmissibility of a particular variant of the COVID-19 virus or the effectiveness of a specific vaccine.

The Brisbane Supreme Court’s rulings come just a week after an appeal court in New Zealand upheld a judgement that the COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by the New Zealand Defence Force during the pandemic were unlawful.

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