Members of Western Australia (WA) Police are taking the state and its Chief Health Officer (CHO) to court over sweeping vaccine mandates that have forced a million workers—75 percent of the state’s workforce—to choose between getting a COVID-19 vaccine or their job.
The group commenced an application on Nov. 26 in the state’s supreme court seeking to strike down the CHO’s public health directives, which put in a place a deadline of Dec. 1 for all police staff to get vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes novel coronavirus.
Hotchkin Hanly Lawyers initiated the proceedings on behalf of Senior Constable Ben Falconer. However, the firm represents a total of 34 unvaccinated sworn and unsworn members and staff of WA Police.
But while some similar cases have failed in other states, Jordan McDonald—a representative of the group and former WA cop of 10 years who has chosen not to get a COVID-19 vaccine—said he believed the case had good grounds to succeed due to certain laws unique to WA.
“Our public health order is written differently to the New South Wales one, and there are certain criteria that the chief health officer here must meet and must satisfy that do not exist in the eastern states’ legislation,” McDonald told The Epoch Times on Nov. 29.
Since October three separate appeals had been dismissed in New South Wales, including a veteran paramedic and a nurse. Additionally, a challenge in Tasmania, from health workers was unsuccessful. While in Queensland, police failed to overturn their own directives.
“In addition to that, our COVID environment, or lack thereof, is very different in WA compared to what was, and what is, happening over east,” McDonald said.
Parts of WA have been put in lockdown three times this year after recording a combined six cases of community transmission, with the state experiencing a total of 1,121 cases of COVID-19 leading to nine deaths.
McDonald said he knew of more than 30 WA Police staff that did not plan on getting vaccinated by the deadline. Speaking at the WA Police Union’s 85th Annual Conference, acting president Mike Kelly said that 150 officers were currently on leave and had not been vaccinated.
WA Police Minister Paul Papalia said he did not have confidence in the success of the legal challenge.
“I suspect it’s going to be unsuccessful,” Papalia said, ABC reported.
Papalia expressed disappointment following the actions of tens of thousands of West Australians who protested the state’s mandates on the streets, with small to large rallies taking place a total of 14 times since the start of October.
“The extent of some of the behaviours has been extraordinary,” Papalia said.
“What some people are doing in the face of this pandemic and measures that are being undertaken by government to keep everyone safe doesn’t surprise me.
However, McDonald said the completion of the legwork for the legal battle had opened up the challenge for other industries, particularly those within the United Service WA—a coalition of police, fire, ambulance, prisons, education, and health workers against vaccination mandates.
McDonald estimated that up to 6,000 fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers and over 2,000 health workers in WA did not agree with the mandate—groups that are currently in the early stages of launching their own legal actions against the state and its chief health officer.
But WA Premier Mark McGowan has warned that the vaccine mandate will remain for years to come.
“The mandates will stay in place,” McGowan told ABC radio, reported news.com.au.
“I can’t say what a future premier might do, but they’ll be in place for a very long time while I’m the premier.”
“This will be a situation that exists for a long period of time, so people need to go and get vaccinated.”
Western Australia has been criticised for its stringent lockdowns and vaccine mandates, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce comparing the state’s measures to North Korea.