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Queensland Supreme Court Rules on COVID-19 Vaccine Madate

Justice Glenn Martin of the Queensland Supreme Court ruled that two instances of a vaccine mandate violated the state's Human Rights Act

Queensland Supreme Court Rules on COVID-19 Vaccine Madate

A high court in Australia ruled that requiring first responders to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a violation of their human rights.

Justice Glenn Martin of the Queensland Supreme Court sided with members of the Queensland Police Department (QPS) and the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS), who challenged the mandate in two separate cases filed in 2021 and 2022.

Martin found that the government violated section 58 of the state’s Human Rights Act when it required the vaccine.

Citing concerns about the spread of the virus, Queensland’s Department of Health required QAS employees to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by December 2021. Employees of the QPS had to be fully vaccinated by January 2022. Those hoping to refrain from getting the vaccine for medical or religious reasons needed to have their exemption formally approved.

Martin said that not complying with the vaccine requirement could have had “life-changing consequences” for QAS and QPS employees. He ordered the QPS commissioner, Katarina Carroll, to stop enforcing the mandate and to drop any disciplinary actions being taken against employees who did not comply with the mandate.

Additionally, the judge ordered the director-general of Queensland Health to be prevented from enforcing the vaccine mandate for QAS workers and that no disciplinary action be enforced.

The court’s decision was even more technical with regard to the ambulance service,” reports The Guardian. “That application succeeded because the health service was unable to provide sufficient evidence to show that the order was a power contained in an employment contract. The ambulance service order was not unlawful, just ineffective.”

In total, 74 current employees of the two agencies were involved in the case.

Queensland’s Health Minister Shannon Fentiman told reporters that the government is “still considering the decision." She stressed that Martin’s ruling was about how the mandates were instituted and defended the mandates.

"His honour determined that the [police] commissioner did not give significant consideration of the human rights of employees in the Queensland Police Service at the time she made that decision,” she said, per ABC News. “That was his finding, therefore, that is now an unlawful direction. … But he did find that the limit on people's human rights to have healthcare imposed upon them without consent was justified because of the pandemic."

"In the case of the Queensland Ambulance Service directive, he found that the directive was just of no effect, it was not unlawful,” Fentiman continued. "It was compatible with human rights, but there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that it was a reasonable direction under the employment contract."

Premier Steven Miles also told the outlet that he stood by the mandates.

“Certainly no regrets, the steps that we took to keep Queenslanders safe were the right steps and they worked,” he said.I'm very proud of Queensland's response."

Martin’s decision could be overturned if the QPS and QAS opt to appeal to the Australian Supreme Court. 

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